Starting this season, the NBA is no longer restricting sneaker colorways for its athletes, and sneaker reselling platform Goat has seized on the opportunity to gain exposure on the court, signing Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma to be its new brand ambassador.
Kuzma, a second-year Laker and member of the 2018 All-Rookie First Team, is the first athlete to partner with a sneaker reselling platform—and his is the first endorsement deal for the brand.
Now that NBA players are free to wear shoes of any color and not required to match their uniforms, Goat will outfit Kuzma with “rare and highly coveted Nike sneakers” during the season, which tips off this week. It’s a move likely to be copied by other major endorsement brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
Kuzma, who had already signed an endorsement deal with Nike in July 2017, touted the platform as a way for consumers, even wealthy athletes, to obtain high-end sneakers that are hard to find.
“Goat has inspired me to start collecting more seriously and build my style around sneakers,” Kuzma said in a statement. “People assume that, as an NBA athlete, you can get access to any kind of sneaker you want. When in reality, it’s hard to get the exclusive releases or shoes from the past and feel confident they’re authentic. Goat gives me a second chance at not only the limited releases I missed, but also the shoes I wasn’t able to afford growing up.”
Goat launched in 2015 as a startup and has since raised $97.6 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. It has undergone three rounds of financing to date, including a $60 million Series C round completed in February of this year after merging with sneaker reseller and “pioneer” Flight Club. In June, the company hired former Gilt Group and JustFab executive Lizzie Francis as its first chief operating officer to help improve global outreach and the platform’s shopping experience for its female user base.
In the wake of the Lakers’ offseason signing of superstar LeBron James and the high-profile antics of Laker guard Lonzo Ball’s family, it might have been easy to forget about Kuzma solid playing. While major brands tend to focus on the most visible players for endorsements, Goat co-founder and CEO Eddy Lu believes the 23-year-old athlete is a fitting representative for the brand.
“Goat has always celebrated great athletes,” Lu said. “Kuzma is emblematic of the passion, focus and determination that reflect what it means to be great. We couldn’t be more proud to have Kuzma represent the Goat brand and inspire others both on and off the court.”