ATLANTA — Celebrities are spending big money on NFTs, with some selling for millions of dollars.
NFT stands for “nonfungible tokens,” artist Micah Johnson said.
But what are they? And after you buy one, what can you do with it?
Channel 2′s Jorge Estevez talked to the people who are creating NFTs in Georgia about how people can benefit from owning them and cash in on them.
Celebrities from Shaquille O’Neal to Gwyneth Paltrow are getting in on the NFT craze. Justin Bieber reportedly paid $1.3 million for his “Bored Ape Yacht Club” NFT.
“So, you own it, you can sell it, you can trade it to someone else,” said Jon Parise, co-founder of Atlanta-based GigLabs.
The Players’ Lounge released 4,500 Georgia Bulldog NFTs for $199 each in January.
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“What we’ve done with our token is we’ve paired it with an image,” said Ty Frix, Players’ Lounge co-founder.
“You sold out in how long?” Estevez asked.
“Four hours,” Frix said.
Jonathan Wallace writes the code that creates the one-of a-kind Dawgs.
Part of what makes NFTs unique is they live on the blockchain — a system of recording information that is impossible to change, which makes them secure.
“So, you have to show that they’re going to live on that blockchain, and they can’t be changed after the fact,” Wallace said.
“It’s almost giving them their own VIN number, like your car?” asked Estevez.
“100%,” Wallace said.
Not only do collectors get a cool image but they also become part of a community.
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In this case, the NFT is like a unique key that gives the owner exclusive access to the Bulldog players.
“We’re working on creating a space for a player to play video games with fans or a player to get on a live podcast with fans,” Frix said.
The Bulldog players get paid for their participation.
Estevez went on the discord channel of The Players’ Lounge and video chatted with Aaron Leicht, a sales and marketing coach in Nashville, Tennessee, who bought several Dawg NFTs.
“What do you like best about your NFT?” Estevez asked Leicht.
“It gets you closer to the game, the players and you’re able to interact with these guys that they have access to,” Leicht said.
NFTs could be the future – and not just as images like the Dawgs. They could also be used to store important documents like the deed to your house, memories like your high school diploma, or everyday things like your driver’s license, meaning you wouldn’t have to carry it around in your wallet.
NFTs can also be art.
Former Atlanta Braves player and artist Micah Johnson created the “Aku Dreams” NFT series, which tells a very personal story.
“(It is) about my nephew asking me if astronauts could be Black,” Johnson said.
“What is it about Aku that you see resonates with people?” Estevez asked.
“I think it’s the helmet. I think that you don’t see it, who he is. So, there’s that kind of that could be anybody,” Johnson said. “This is when I knew Aku was a thing that could really tack on. My daughter is 2-and-a-half years old. She can see Aku on my phone from across the room and go nuts. Aku! Aku! Aku!”
Aku collectors get special access to events like a party in Miami, Florida, during Art Basel in December.
These NFTs sell for thousands of dollars, and plans are in the works to turn Aku’s story into a movie.
Jon Parise works for GigLabs, which provides the technology to help companies create NFTs.
Their clients include The Players’ Lounge, CNN and UFC.
Parise believes that in the future, everything from music to tickets will become NFTs.
“You not only get access now to the event, but then you’ve got this digital collectible that says, ‘Yes, I was there.’ And I can save this and now I can look back fondly and say, ‘OK, this is my collectible,’” Parise said.
If you’re looking to cash in on the NFT craze, Parise recommends doing your homework: Know the team behind the project, understand their vision, and trust your gut.
“As long as you buy things you like, and you appreciate you’re not going to be that upset if it’s not maybe skyrocketing in value,” Parise said.
NFTs can also be a status symbol like a Rolex watch or a Gucci bag that shows others you’ve made it.
That is part of the popularity of the Bored Ape Yacht Club – the NFT Justin Bieber bought for more than $1 million.
There is money to be made off NFTs.
Parise said on the secondary market it’s not uncommon for NFTs that might cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to then sell for $1 million.
But it all comes down to supply and demand, and whether people want to own a particular NFT.
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