Ted-Jan Bloemen, a two-time world record holder in speed skating from Canada, has added another first to his name after signing a unique sponsorship deal with ONG Social and CEEK VR.
Under the terms of the partnership, some of Bloemen’s compensation will include cryptocurrency, making him the first athlete sponsored with digital money. He will use the virtual coins to attain his speed skating targets, CEEK VR said in a press statement.
Bloemen, a member of the Canadian National Team, commented on the partnership:
"Speed skating success is all about progression – building and building to peak at the right time. I'm excited to step into the future with ONG and CEEK. Their progressive approach to social media and VR paired with cryptocurrencies bring a whole new perspective. A perspective that, I believe, has a lot of potentials! I feel like I just got two new teammates to help put me over the top, at the most important point in the season."
Mary Spio, CEO and founder of CEEK VR., added:
"As the VR Entertainment and VR Education market leader, we are thrilled to partner with Speed Skating's category leader, world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen. His support for cutting-edge technologies is reflective of his proclivity for pushing the boundaries. We believe Virtual Reality isn't just great for our audience (Ceekers) but will ultimately be used for training and maximizing player performance and potential."
Although Bloemen is the first athlete to get digital currency for his endorsement, he is not the first with a sponsorship from a cryptocurrency. In 2014, Nascar driver Josh Wise received $55,000 worth of Dogecoin. That same year, Dogecoin backers donated $25,000 to Jamaican bobsleigh team to send them to the winter Olympics.
What makes Bloemen’s deal unique is the lack of a fixed amount of cryptocurrency he would receive. Instead, he would earn currency rewards to fund the pursuit of his professional goals.
Bloemen holds both a Canadian and a Dutch citizenship as he was born in the Netherlands, but his father hails from New Brunswick. He moved to Calgary in 2014 to compete for Canada.
The athlete is set to participate in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, in March. He will take part in several events, including the 5,000-meter, 10,000-meter, and Team Pursuit.
Bloemen joins long list of celebrity endorsers
The deal with ONG Social and CEEK VR puts Bloemen on a growing list of celebrities, among them Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton, Floyd ‘Money' Mayweather. They have thrown their support behind the blockchain space, particularly initial coin offerings (ICOs).
In September, Foxx tweeted his excitement about taking part in a zero-fee ICO led by cryptocurrency exchange Cobinhood.
Lawrence Baslaw, president of Baslaw + Associates and Bloemen's agent, said the cryptocurrency sponsorship “is a first for any athlete.” He continued:
“This is really a whole new frontier. It will be exciting to see how cryptocurrency can work for Ted-Jan, in particular, but also the impact it will have on the sport marketing industry as a whole."