• Sports merchandise company Fanatics will be Candy’s majority shareholder
  • Novogratz and Vaynerchuk will be equity partners and serve as co-chairs

Nearly two years after the launch of the non-fungible token platform NBA Top Shot, a new group of entrepreneurs is looking to capitalize on the popular sports NFT market by launching a new company called Candy Digital.

Included in the deal are Fanatics executive chairman Michael Rubin, Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Mike Novogratz and digital media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck. Major League Baseball will be Candy’s first partner, according to a statement released by Fanatics Tuesday. 

Sports merchandise company Fanatics will be Candy’s majority shareholder. Novogratz and Vaynerchuk will be equity partners and serve as co-chairs. Vaynerchuk will be a board member and advisor.

Each member of the group brings unique experience to the table. Rubin is the mastermind behind the world’s largest licensed sports apparel retailer. Fanatics has a customer base of more than 80 million. 

Vaynerchuk, an early entrant into the sports card market, is the founder of digital media company VaynerMedia and athlete management firm VaynerSports. Former hedge fund manager Novogratz is one of the most vocal and respected crypto advocates on Wall Street. 

“The NFT space has traditionally focused on a small community of crypto-first customers, Candy’s sophisticated team is building immersive brand experiences that appeal to crypto-savvy players, consumers, memorabilia collectors, and sports fans alike, and Galaxy looks forward to participating in the evolution in collectibles,” said Mike Novogratz, founder, and CEO of Galaxy Digital and co-chair of Candy Digital.

Candy is hoping to capitalize on the unprecedented interest in the sports NFT market right now. NFTs experienced a major surge earlier this year as investors flocked to assets like autographs and trading cards. Sports NFTs have dominated headlines and raked in millions in revenue over the past six months. 

Major League Baseball is following in the NFT footsteps of the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association with its Candy partnership.

“From trading cards to autographed balls, baseball fans have demonstrated their passion for the sport and its players through collectibles for decades,” said Robert D. Manfred, Jr., Commissioner of Baseball, in a statement. “In working with Candy Digital to offer NFTs to MLB fans, we’re delivering an exciting new addition to the robust baseball collectible market. The founders of Candy are a dynamic group of executives with an impressive track record. We’re excited to be the first partner in this new venture with a team uniquely positioned for success.” 

Candy’s first collectible will be a Lou Gehrig NFT of the baseball player’s July 4, 1939 farewell speech to be released on July 4. Candy will be the hub for purchasing, trading and sharing all officially licensed baseball NFTs going forward.

  • Blockworks
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    Casey Wagner covers digital assets and macro economics. Prior to joining Blockworks she was a markets reporter at Bloomberg.