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MLB Makes History With First-ever Crypto Partner

Last Updated: July 23, 2021
Cryptocurrency exchange FTX will sponsor a patch on Major League Baseball’s umpire uniforms.

The normalization and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology across society and sports took another big step Wednesday. Major League Baseball announced a landmark deal with cryptocurrency exchange FTX, making them the league’s first-ever official crypto partner.

The deal — the first ever between a crypto exchange and a major professional sports league — is intended to be a long-term collaboration, and will include sponsorship patches that MLB umpires will wear on the field. FTX has also linked with MLB Players Inc., a division of the MLBPA, that grants FTX access to official league highlights for creative content initiatives.

The Oakland A’s made headlines when they announced they’d begin accepting cryptocurrency for certain transactions, from individual game tickets to private luxury boxes. But today’s news heralds crypto technology officially entering baseball’s mainstream.

In 2021, FTX has been hard at work immersing itself into traditional sports and esports alike. In April, the company partnered with the Miami Heat to buy the naming rights to their former American Airlines Arena for $135 million. EArlier this month, they inked a record-setting nine-figure deal for the rights to rebrand TSM, a giant organization in the world of esports, as TSM FTX.

And with its permanent US branch newly constructed and its momentum continuing to build, FTX now looks to expand its reach across the worlds of sports and entertainment even more.

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Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX’s CEO, said he considers it a true privilege to have secured such a breakthrough deal.

“It’s an honor for FTX to be the first cryptocurrency exchange to be associated with the history and tradition of America’s national pastime. FTX.com and FTX.us are excited to enter this first-of-its-kind partnership with Major League Baseball. We look forward to announcing further details of our long-term partnership throughout the remainder of this year,” Bankman-Fried said via TheStreet.

Major League Baseball umpires will begin sporting the company’s patches next month, starting with the 2021 All-Star Game on July 13. FTX will now be able to use MLB logos worldwide in their own marketing, as well as incorporate ads on the MLB Network, the league’s various social media platforms, MLB.tv and MLB.com.

Noah Garden, MLB’s Chief Revenue Officer, acknowledged the league’s fanbase adapting well to tech to further their engagement with the game and recognizes FTX as a leader in the crypto world.

“FTX quickly cultivated itself into a worldwide leader in the ever-evolving cryptocurrency industry and continues to build on its already impressive reputation. Our fans have been early adopters in using new technologies to engage with our game. We cannot wait to start collaborating with Sam and the entire FTX team,” he said.

It’s quite likely that this partnership will end up going far beyond just umpire patches. And while we may not know precisely what the MLB-FTX synergy will look like years from now, the pact signals a major shift for the business of sports and the popularization of blockchain technology.