Apr 13, 2022 - Economy & Business

Cowboys join North Texas' "crypto gold rush" with Blockchain.com deal

Illustration of a handmade Bitcoin wearing a cowboy hat.
Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The Dallas Cowboys just inked a partnership deal with Blockchain.com, a crypto-focused company, the two announced Wednesday at a press conference.

Why it matters: North Texas, a longtime center for banking and finance, is quietly experiencing a "crypto mining gold rush."

Details: Blockchain.com, a decade-old company that began as a bitcoin digital wallet provider, will be the Cowboys' official sponsor as part of a 10-year deal.

  • This is the first crypto partnership since the NFL last month partially reversed its ban on teams signing sponsorships with cryptocurrency companies.
  • The partnership will include extensive advertising during games and signs inside AT&T Stadium, according to the company's co-founder and CEO, Peter Smith.

What they're saying: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compared the partnership to the deals the team has with Ford and AT&T, noting that the country is headed in the direction of more cryptocurrency.

  • "I wanted the Dallas Cowboys to be a part of that future in any and every way we could," Jones said.

The other side: Smith said that the partnership is about building consumer confidence.

  • "A lot of our role as a crypto company is about two things: making crypto easy enough for normal people and convincing them to trust us," Smith said.

Between the lines: Despite the never-been-hotter regulatory reckoning over cryptocurrencies in the U.S., Smith said the partnership has nothing to do with building alliances to fend off stricter regulations.

  • "Zero percent," Smith said. "I don't think there's a lot of weight on the federal regulator side there."

Zoom out: The crypto industry has increasingly looked to sports audiences as an avenue for new users — including this year's NFL Super Bowl, which featured ads from four companies.

  • Crypto companies are spending big dollars on everything from stadium naming rights to specific teams, league referee uniforms, and individual athletes as brand ambassadors. Last week, Blockchain.com itself announced the hiring of its own head of sports and entertainment partnerships.
  • Several professional athletes have also opted to get paid in cryptocurrencies, and last week the Tennessee Titans became the first NFL team to accept bitcoin payments for larger purchases like season tickets.

Context: The Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers have struck partnership deals with cryptocurrency companies, and a number of companies have set up shop in the area, including a crypto-mining firm that recently raised $43 million in venture capital.

  • Even Texas elected officials and candidates have extolled the benefits of the technology — and the state's ambition to welcome the industry. Jasmine Crockett, a Dallas Democrat running for Congress, has been boosted by $2 million in Super PAC funding from crypto traders — more than any other congressional candidate.

What we're watching: When will the Cowboys start paying players in crypto?

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