A few weeks ago, as the college sports universe was just beginning to grasp the reality of name, image and likeness, one specific announcement sent waves rippling across the country.
A Miami Hurricanes supporter promised each scholarship football player a monthly check of $500 if they endorsed his business, a chain of mixed martial arts gyms.
Now, UM’s conference rival is being offered something similar.
Yummy Crypto, a four-month-old cryptocurrency company, is offering $500 to all eligible Florida State football players during the first month of the season in the latest team-wide endorsement arrangement. Though the deal was inspired by the Miami football team’s annual venture, Yummy Crypto is offering the deal for only one month, September, with the possibility of extending it further.
The company stands to pay out $60,000 if all 120 FSU football players agree to the deal, says Corey Johnson, the director of partnerships at Yummy Crypto. As of Monday, at least 60 FSU football players, including quarterback McKenzie Milton, have agreed to take part in the deal—a payout of at least $30,000.
The athletes will be required to create a weekly social media post endorsing Yummy Crypto. Yummy is believed to be the first crypto company to provide college athletes with such a deal, which was arranged through the Florida-based NIL marketplace Dreamfield, of which both Miami quarterback D’Eriq King and Milton partially own.
“The goal is to be as involved with college sports as we can,” Johnson tells Sports Illustrated. “We wanted to help out the whole team—not just the big-time players. Every one of those players is busting their ass.”
Yummy Crypto will make payments in crypto to Dreamfield. Those payments will be transferred to cash and distributed to players, says Dreamfield CEO Luis Pardillo.
Yummy Crypto is a charitable operation. In its first month of existence, Yummy donated $1 million to end world hunger, says Johnson. In fact, he says, 3% of Yummy’s transactions go directly to charity.
This is the company’s second NIL venture. On the heels of the Miami football team’s deal, Yummy offered the Miami basketball team a similar $500-a-month endorsement arrangement for a year. So far, eight players have opted into that deal, says Johnson. That’s a near $50,000 investment.
It’s all been inspired by Dan Lambert, the Miami booster who made the splashy offer last month to Hurricane football players to endorse American Top Team, his MMA training academy. The marketing operation has been dubbed “Bring Back the U.”
“We saw what Dan Lambert did and said, ‘Wow, that’s kind of cool,’” says Johnson, himself a former walk-on college basketball player at Lehigh and whose full time job is junior high basketball coach and social studies teacher near Philadelphia.
“Depending on how it goes—if we get out of it what we think—we’d continue it for the rest of the season,” he says. “We think it’s going to be huge.”
The deal is at least the fourth team-wide endorsement deal offering significant cash to athletes. BYU last week joined the two Miami teams in such an arrangement. Built Brands, a Utah-based protein snacks company, plans to give all 123 Cougars a chance to promote its brand for money. Those on scholarship can earn $1,000 while walk-ons earn the equivalent of tuition at the school, which ranges from $3,000 to $6,000 a semester.
Pardillo expects more team-wide deals as the NIL era in college sports marches onward. Brands can maximize exposure by reaching every athlete on a team, he says.
“I think a lot of brands see the value of the social equity component of the space—supporting athletes whether they are superstars or the walk-ons on the team,” he says. “This is fairly unique and we’ll see more of this. It’s going to take companies with vision and the marketing budget.”
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