Cryptocurrency exchange FTX has been racking up notable allies across the sports world over the last year, ranging from athlete ambassadors to league sponsorships, and it has just added another partner to its stable: pro tennis player Naomi Osaka.
Today, FTX and FTX US announced that Osaka will serve as a global ambassador for the brand, joining other athletes in the role including Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, and Shohei Ohtani. Osaka will receive an equity stake in FTX as part of the agreement, and will also be paid in cryptocurrency.
Through the deal, FTX and Osaka will collaborate on initiatives to bring more women into Web3, including producing content targeted at young women that Osaka will creatively direct. The content will have a global focus, according to a release, given Osaka’s own multicultural Japanese and Haitian heritage.
FTX will also make a donation to Play Academy, Osaka’s charity formed with Nike. Lastly, the firm said that it will advise Osaka with her own personal investments into cryptocurrency.
“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said in a release.
“Cryptocurrencies started with the goal of being accessible to everyone and breaking down barriers to entry,” she continued. “I’m excited to partner with FTX to get back to that mission and to innovate on new ways to reach more people and further democratize the space.”
Osaka is already involved in the crypto and blockchain industry as one of the athletes on Autograph, an NFT platform co-founded by Brady. She’s also on Autograph’s board of advisors, alongside other athletes on the platform such as Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, and Simone Biles.
Previously, Osaka released a series of NFT collectibles in April 2021 that were designed by her sister, Mari Osaka, which raised $600,000 for Play Academy. Last summer, Naomi said that the rising popularity of meme coin Dogecoin initially raised her interest in cryptocurrency.
In addition to athlete deals, FTX has signed a number of other sports and esports partnerships, including with Major League Baseball, the NBA’s Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors, esports club Team SoloMid (TSM), and League of Legends esports competitions.
FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried told Decrypt in January on the gm podcast that he has anecdotally seen significant returns from the firm’s sports spending spree.
“Everyone we talk to who knows us a little bit, or a lot, or barely, or intimately, this is top of mind for them,” he said. “Clearly this has penetrated more than everything else we’ve done combined, in terms of people’s perception of us.”