Dwyane Wade likes to take corporate risks and is now getting into NFTs

Former Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade addresses the crowd during the jersey retirement ceremony at the American Airlines Arena on February 22, 2020 in Miami, Florida.

Michael Reaves | Getty Images

Dwyane Wade likes to take risks when it comes to business.

The three-time retired NBA champion, 40, has investments in media and consumer products companies. Wade, 40, has bought a stake in two sports teams and is hosting a TV show. Wade is also taking a risk with the volatile NFT market.

“I’ve always taken risks,” Wade told CNBC in an interview. “I’ve always been a guy who did things a little differently than everyone else.”

Wade is working with Budweiser Zero on an NFT collection that goes on sale May 24. Wade co-founded the alcohol-free and sugar-free drink in 2020. The NFTs will sell for $ 180 each and give buyers the opportunity to win prizes, including autographs Wade Trainers and the chance to watch a Utah Jazz game with he. Wade is a minority owner in the NBA franchise.

“This is an opportunity to be part of a young brand that is looking to build a fan base and deliver great experiences,” he said, defining the NFT collection as another option for fans “to do something unique and interesting. “.

However, the NFT collection is launching itself during a downward cycle for digital assets. NFT’s daily sales have fallen more than 90% since September 2021, according to The Wall Street newspaper. She also comes in the middle of a cryptocurrency sale, including bitcoins.

But Wade doesn’t mind taking risks in space.

“If you look at my basketball career, my business career has become very similar,” he said.

Wade’s fundamental business decision

Wade, who retired from basketball in 2019, amassed nearly $ 200 million in earnings during his 16-year NBA career, according to Spotraca website that keeps track of sports contacts. forbes he estimates that he earns $ 17 million annually in sponsorships.

“It’s different,” Wade said when asked about retirement. Wade said he figured out how to apply “the same things that made me a special athlete” to his post-career him during the pandemic.

He set the tone for his post-retirement years with a pivotal move during the height of his career.

As a rookie in 2003, Wade signed with the Converse sneakers brand. Then he took a big step towards Nike’s Michael Jordan brand in 2009pairing it with other NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, among others.

Then, in 2012, Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning asked Wade to start its shoe line. They offered him a stake. Wade, who called the offering his “most commercially important deal,” seized the opportunity and left the Jordan brand for Li-Ning.

“Thanks for putting down the project,” Wade told Jordan. “I’m going to try making my own version of it.”

Jordan, in turn, told Wade to “understand and respect” the move, according to Wade.

Finally, in 2018, Wade signed a lifetime contract with Li-Ning for an undisclosed amount. Young NBA stars like New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum and Miami Heat striker Jimmy Butler have joined him in the brand. D’Angelo Russell, guard of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has also signed with the sneaker line.

“It’s a slow build,” Wade said. “Athletes are taking risks by doing something a little different.”

He added, “I’m not trying to recreate anything,” explained Wade. “I’m looking to have a trainers and apparel business that players have been wearing for many years. I want to build something that’s a legacy for my family.”

Dwayne Wade

Issac Baldizon | NBAE | Getty Images

Building on momentum

Wade continued to press in new commercial areas after his retirement.

Wade started a winery called “Wade Cellars”. He has a stake in the media company Players TV. He and his wife, actor Gabrielle Union, co-founded Proudly, a company that makes baby products. He said the start-up “was born of a need”.

Wade said, “We have a 3-year-old daughter and we go to 80 different stores to buy products. We said, ‘This doesn’t work for us. How can we build what works for us: minorities in our world and community?’”

in April, It proudly released its product line, including baby detergent and lotion. The company will eventually offer diapers.

On the sports ownership front, Wade also took a small stake in the NBA Utah Jazz in April 2021 and joined Blackstone executive David Blitzer as a co-owner in MLS Real Salt Lake club. Wade didn’t disclose his stake value, but said it’s a small percentage.

Wade said becoming the owner of a majority team is “the ultimate goal” for him. But there may be limits to his risk appetite in this scenario.

“But maybe I’ll go through this process and say to myself, ‘No, you don’t want those headaches,’” she said.