Timur Celikel, a 39-year-old software engineer in San Diego, isn’t much of a sports fan. In his youth, he followed the Padres a bit, and he still has some boxes of baseball cards collecting dust in storage. But for the last decade or so, his interest in anything athletic has felt at best dormant.
Then a year ago, a friend introduced him to non-fungible tokens, particularly ones featuring star athletes in action.“He had these little digital statues that were going for thousands of dollars,” Celikel said. “I thought, ‘This is insanity. Why would anyone buy this? This is a flash in the pan. It’s not going to last.’”
But he was intrigued, and after doing a bit more research, he got sucked in. Today, Celikel is the owner of digital wallets brimming with sports NFTs, including the Simone Biles Carbon Premier, an NBA Top Shot featuring Seth Curry, who was then a Philadelphia 76er, and an interception from Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie against the Rams in Super Bowl LVI, among others. Because the leagues backed these NFTs, he felt they had more staying power as investments and were less prone to scams than some of the art NFTs he had looked at. “It kind of scratches this weird itch of investing,” Celikel said, “like owning a stock or something.”
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