DraftKings Dollars Help Shalom Meckenzie Nab CryptoPunk NFT for $11.8M


For obvious reasons, not the least of which is the 37.18 percent gain over the past year, it’s good to own a lot of DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG). Just ask Shalom Meckenzie, who plunked down $11.8 million on a non-fungible token at a Sotheby’s auction on Thursday.

CryptoPunk 7523CryptoPunk 7523
A replica of the CryptoPunk 7523 NFT. The real thing was purchased for $11.8 million by a DraftKings board member. (Image: U. Today)

The DraftKings board member paid that tidy sum for a digital piece of art known as “CryptoPunk #7523” — part of a coveted series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) produced by Larva Labs in 2017. To be precise, Meckenzie paid $11.75 million for the NFT.

NFTs are units of data stored on and verified by the blockchain, meaning Meckenzie isn’t receiving a physical piece of art to be hung on a wall or displayed in a museum. NFTs have applications with a variety of digitized items, such as audio and video files, as well as pictures.

The DraftKings director bought CryptoPunk 7523 via a digital auction. But replicas of the series of works can be seen by the general public at Sotheby’s exhibitions in Hong Kong, London, and New York, reports Reuters.

Meckenzie Can Afford Such Indulgences

As of May 4, Meckenzie owns 22.38 million shares of DraftKings equity, making him, by far, the largest investor in the common stock. Cofounder and CEO Jason Robins controls approximately 92.5 percent of the voting stock in the sportsbook operator.

Meckenzie’s involvement with the company comes by way of him founding SBTech, an Israeli sports betting technology platform provider that came together last year with DraftKings in a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  The transaction set the stage for the combined entity to go public as DraftKings.

Based on his stake in the company as of May 4 and the stock currently hovering around $53, Meckenzie’s investment in the gaming equity is worth $1.18 billion — enough to make him one of the richest men in Israel.

Not First Time NFTs, Gaming Meet

Meckenzie’s CryptoPunk buy isn’t the first time a well-known figure from the business side of the sports betting world was involved with NFTs.

In April, Barstool Sports auctioned off an NFT called “One Bite Pizza Review of Blocks Pizza Deli (Miami) — Featuring Guy With No Arms.” The image contains founder David Portnoy conducting one of his famed pizzeria reviews. That digital work sold for $138,160.

NFTs burst onto the scene earlier this year, and the fans of market speculation were stoked when a digital work was auctioned by Christie’s at $69.3 million. Sotheby’s sold a piece of digitized art by the artist “Pak” in April for $16.8 million.

While the still-nascent NFT market cooled a bit, it has supporters from elsewhere in the sports industry. For example, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who’s also an investor in sports betting data provider Sportradar, is a vocal proponent of the NFT market, saying it holds long-term potential.

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