New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker has jumped into the suddenly booming non-fungible token (NFT) space, becoming the the first active big-leaguer to join the craze. Walker’s NFT sold for the equivalent of $4,275 on Friday, all of which will be donated to his team’s Amazin’ Mets Foundation.
In comparison to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, who each hosted NFT sales in recent weeks, the purchase price for Walker’s NFT was small. Mahomes’ collection of NFTs sold for $3.7 million and Gronkowski’s sold for $1.75 million.
Selling his digital collectible card on OpenSea, a popular marketplace for NFTs that also hosted Gronkowski’s sale, Walker noted his inspiration to develop an NFT. “I started getting into [cryptocurrency] a couple months ago,” Walker said in an interview. “I saw Rob Gronkowski started doing his, and I thought, Hey, let’s see if we can do something here and be the first baseball player to do it.”
Micah Johnson, a onetime major leaguer turned artist, sold $2 million worth of NFTs in 28 hours in February. But Johnson’s auction did not sell an NFT commemorating his baseball career; instead the former second baseman sold tokens based on a sculpture he created called AKU: The Moon God.
The sports NFT craze has largely been fueled by the wild success of NBA Top Shot. Since its launch last October, the company has hosted more than $330 million in sales of digital highlights, called “moments.” Walker told Sportico that this is just the beginning of his journey with NFTs, saying he still has a lot to learn, but he was excited by the medium’s infinite possibilities.
“You can put whatever you want on it, and I think it gives us the freedom as players and as athletes to have no strings attached and create however we choose to,” Walker said. “I think people are just starting to learn about it, there’s a lot of YouTube videos about this stuff, and I think it’s just going to keep growing and keep exploding.”