Patrick Mahomes recently sold $3.7 million worth of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It followed Rob Gronkowski’s sale of $1.75 million in NFTs. Each athlete successfully auctioned off a limited number of digital art pieces connected to their respective NFTs, which has caused many others in the world of professional sports to take an interest in learning more about what NFTs are all about as well as how they can potentially benefit from following in the footsteps of Mahomes and Gronkowski.
On the latest episode of the How to Play the Game podcast (Apple/Spotify), I spoke with New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker about his own experience dabbling in the world of NFT auctions. Walker very recently completed a five-day auction of a one-of-one digital card that sold for 2.35 Ether, or roughly $4,000. He says that the experience was rewarding and that he is looking into hosting more auctions in the future.
$4,000 may not seem like a lot of money, especially considering the massive amounts of revenue generated by Mahomes and Gronkowski, but Walker seems very pleased with the results of his effort. Walker, who is in the middle of Spring Training for the Mets, takes pride in being the first MLB player to dip his toes into the realm of NFT auctions.
The auction was held from March 14-19. Walker was curious to see if he would receive any backlash. He says that he only heard positive feedback from the media, Major League Baseball, and the New York Mets, which not only supported Walker’s efforts but also indicated that the organization is interested in conducting its own NFT auction(s) in the future.
Walker says that he already has a few new things in the works and that his next NFT listing will be sometime soon. He is also convinced that there will be many more baseball players creating their own NFTs and that conversations in the locker room surrounding NFTs will begin to take shape once teams break camp for the regular season.
Walker, who was selected in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft, admits that he still has a lot of learning to do and says that he is committed to spending off-days researching NFTs to determine if any catch his eyes as he determines whether he wants to build his own collection of purchased items. That may be challenging for a guy who admits that his three priorities are video games, golf, and baseball on repeat.
He may have not even considered getting into the NFT space and becoming the first professional baseball player to sell NFTs had a former teammate in the Seattle Mariners organization not pressed him on looking into the concept. Much like the rest of the world, Walker had no clue what an NFT was only a few weeks ago. He has since realized the opportunity in the space and loves the ability to team up with charities, such as the Amazin’ Mets Foundation (which was associated with his first auction) to share in the revenues that are generated from sales.
Walker does not know who purchased his one-of-one piece but does not seem to care and thinks the anonymous nature of purchases adds intrigue to the acquisition. The experience must have been rewarding for Walker, as he sounds fully committed to releasing many more NFTs down the road, but acknowledges that he cannot be too involved in the process as his top focus remains growing as a baseball player. His agency, Excel Sports Management, assisted with the creation of the digital art and the process of auctioning it off on OpenSea.