Arguably the best basketball player to ever grace the hardwood has been seen rocking a pair of red and black Nike sneakers. And here’s the rub: the kicks can only be obtained by minting an Ethereum-based NFT created by Nike-owned digital fashion company RTFKT.
The photo of LeBron wearing the Web3 shoes went viral after it appeared on The Lakers Twitter account. Shortly after, RTFKT followed with a post of the sneakers on their own account.
Currently, the ‘RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 Genesis’ sneakers have a floor price of 0.40 ETH, or around $755 on NFT marketplace OpenSea. There are a total of 1,776 pairs available, and once users purchase the digital NFT they can redeem it for the physical sneakers.
In December 2021, Nike acquired RTFKT for an undisclosed amount as part of the brand’s aim to blur the boundaries between physical and virtual products. RTFKT has several collections of NFT shoes currently available that range in price from $11 to as high as $9,440 (5 ETH). In May 2022, Nike sold an NFT sneaker designed by world-renowned artist Takashi Murakami for a jaw-dropping $134,000.
Nike has also recently launched its Web3 platform .SWOOSH. The Web3 community built around the platform lets users create and trade digital assets including sneakers, accessories, apparel, and NFT wearables that can be used in games and metaverse. According to Nike, it has over 330,000 members.
Whether Lebron — who is currently leading the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA playoffs against the Golden State Warriors — purchased the sneakers on his own or was gifted them by Nike remains unclear. But it is known that the NBA superstar has a lifetime deal with Nike that’s estimated at around $30 million per year, one of the largest endorsement deals in the history of Nike.
NFT Sneakers Have Become a Thing
For fans of NFTs and basketball, “King James” showing off a pair of sneakers that had to be purchased via Web3 is a big deal. But Nike and RTFKT aren’t the only ones creating and connecting physical and digital sneakers. At Rarity Sniper, we’ve covered several stories about “phygital” sneakers in the space. Here are the top headlines.
First, about a month ago, Balmain, a French luxury fashion house, dropped a limited series of NFT sneakers based on its Unicorn footwear line. The 130 Unicorn sneaker NFTs are linked to physical sneakers and cost between $1,595 and $2,095 per sneaker.
Next, four months ago, the former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen launched an NFT sneaker collection called ‘SR33.’ The collection, which consists of 1,000 meteverse-ready sneakers with accompanying mystery boxes, sold out in a record-breaking 77 seconds.
Finally, about six months ago, the Japanese sportswear company ASICS announced a partnership with move-to-earn app STEPN to launch a Solana-inspired shoe. Fans who purchased the ‘GT-2000 11’ IRL shoe also received token-gated experiences and an airdrop of a special ASICS x STEPN NFT sneaker.
Tying NFTs to physical products is becoming increasingly popular, and Nike is leading the charge among fashion brands in Web3. Word that LeBron James is getting in on the action is unsurprising, considering his long relationship with Nike. But just because it’s expected, doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. At Rarity Sniper, we’ll keep our eye on the floor price of the RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 collection to see if LeBron’s endorsement boosts sales.
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