Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has penned a six-figure deal to become the first NFL player to be a brand ambassador for the HyperX brand of gaming peripherals.
Aside from being one of the NFL’s rising stars, Smith-Schuster is also well-known for being an avid gamer and supporter of esports, with a penchant for the massively-popular Fortnite: Battle Royale.
The 21-year old wide receiver was even part of the group that set the Twitch viewership record for a single individual stream of a game of Fortnite, alongside renown Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevin and rappers Travis Scott and Drake.
“When I’m not training, studying, or at practice, I’m in my element playing video games,” said Smith-Schuster in a statement.
As the brand ambassador for HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology, Smith-Schuster will have to promote the HyperX brand on his Twitch channel, participate in HyperX marketing campaigns and appear at HyperX fan events.
Smith-Schuster will also be joining Joel Embiid, the All-Star center of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, who became HyperX’s headset ambassador in February of this year.
“I wanted to work with HyperX because they have the best headsets, and I love how the brand is always looking for unique ways to work together with me. I’m so excited about this partnership,” added Smith-Schuster.
The new deal is monumental for Smith-Schuster as he has quickly become the most marketable player for the Steelers, even if he is playing behind Antonio Brown, his team’s primary option as wide receiver. Even if Smith-Schuster is yet to make a significant mark on the NFL, he has been expanding his clout well beyond the field.
He has almost 700,000 followers on Twitter, 1.2 million followers on Instagram, and 500,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, with his engaging and magnetic personality resonating among fans of both football and esports.
“His love for gaming is displayed all over his social media, YouTube, and even on the football field. JuJu has brought more sports fans to gaming,” said Dustin Illingworth, HyperX influencer manager.
Alongside his new deal with HyperX, Smith-Schuster also has an endorsement deal in place with the headphones, speakers, and cables company Monster along with the shoe and apparel brand Adidas.
This isn’t HyperX’s first foray into traditional sports for a marketing opportunity, as the brand became the official headset provider of the 76ers, which also owns the renown esports organization Team Dignitas, in October last year.
While esports and traditional sports were thought to have been worlds far apart in the past, the two have been significantly intertwined as of late. With esports and gaming rapidly becoming mainstream, many star athletes have let their games cross over to beyond the court.
While Smith-Schuster headlines the NFL’s foray into esports, other major North American sports leagues, especially the NBA, have already embraced the surging esports industry, as seen with the NBA’s backing of the NBA 2K League.
Smith-Schuster’s deal with HyperX would surely help in opening the floodgates for more partnerships between esports and traditional sports in the future.