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Why Virtual Under Armour Sneakers Are Selling for Tens of Thousands of Dollars

Under Armour celebrated basketball icon Steph Curry’s record-breaking 2,974th three-pointer by releasing its first-ever NFT collection Tuesday.

With each of the 2,974 Genesis Curry Flow tokens priced at $333, the sold-out drop was worth just under $1 million. According to Under Armour, 100 percent of the net revenue—approximately 80 percent of the retail purchase price of each NFT sold—will go to organizations that support access to sport.

The NFT will give owners access to digital replicas of the blue Curry Flow 9 sneakers Curry wore last week when he became the NBA’s all-time leader in career three-pointers. Each virtual shoe can be worn in the pre-programmed ecosystems Gala Games, Decentraland and The Sandbox, “making it the first functional metaverse shoe,” Under Armour said. Rumble Kong League, an unreleased gaming title that bills itself as “the metaverse’s major sports league” and that last week raised $4.5 million in funding, has also indicated it will support an in-game Genesis Curry Flow wearable.

Under Armour created five unique versions of the Genesis Curry Flow NFT, each with a different animation, but all providing access to the same wearable shoes. The company released different numbers of each version, 1,389 of the most common and 30 of the least, effectively creating five different classes of rarity. Buyers only discovered which they had received after purchasing.

“Our future in this space looks bright, but we aren’t rushing it,” an Under Armour spokesperson said. “We’ll remain intentional in how we come into the community and will share more information when it’s available.”

So far, all of the tokens are selling on the secondary market well above the price set by Under Armour, with the most common of the five available for 0.24 ETH, or above $950, on the peer-to-peer NFT marketplace OpenSea. The rarest, meanwhile, can be bought for 9.9 ETH, or a little less than $40,000.

Under Armour’s NFT efforts appear to be centered around the Curry Brand for now. Unlike Nike, which has filed new trademark filings to cover virtual apparel and footwear across seven of its most prominent marks, the Baltimore-based company has so far only filed one application related to virtual goods. Submitted on Dec. 10, the proposed trademark would cover Under Armour’s Curry Brand logo. Under goods and services, it lists “downloadable virtual goods, namely, computer programs featuring… apparel, footwear, headwear, sporting goods and accessories for use in online virtual worlds,” as well as retail and entertainment services related to virtual goods.”

The Genesis Curry Flow NFT drop comes as Under Armour’s competitors ramp up their own efforts to establish a foothold in the metaverse. Just last week, Adidas released its first collection of NFTs, with each token linked to future physical releases, as well as virtual wearables in The Sandbox. With each of the 29,620 identical NFTs sold for 0.2 ETH, the drop was worth somewhere around $23 million. At the same time, Adidas revealed it had acquired a “plot of virtual land” inside The Sandbox where it plans to host exclusive content and experiences.

Also last week, Nike announced it had bought the virtual-first art collective RTFKT for an undisclosed amount. Though the company hasn’t released any formal NFTs yet, it seems inevitable as the company has spent years filing patents that reference what Nike calls “CryptoKicks,” virtual collectibles backed by unique, non-fungible tokens. In some implementations, the patents note, these CryptoKicks could be imported into one or more other digital platforms, including as a skin on a video game character as Under Armour and Adidas are doing. Nike too has claimed a piece of real estate in the metaverse, in its case on the popular virtual platform Roblox.

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