The Preakness Stakes brings NFTs to horse racing

David Wilson, the Chief Marketing Officer of 1/ST, which owns and operates the Preakness Stakes, explains the thought behind horse racing’s first NFT collection.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: The Preakness is tomorrow. And it is the first horse race to offer NFTs. We want to talk about this with David Wilson. He’s the CMO at 1/ST. This is the company that owns and operates the Preakness. David, it’s great to have you.

NFTs, they certainly are very popular these days. You’re doing this in partnership with Medium Rare. And this is a company that also helped facilitate Rob Gronkowski’s NFT. Also the ones associated with the Golden State Warriors. Talk to us just about the opportunity that you see and why you want Preakness to be the first horse race to offer NFTs.

DAVID WILSON: For us, it is important. I mean, the Preakness has been running for 146 years. So what we have is a long legacy of some really epic moments within the sport. And I think for us, we recognize that we’ve got some incredible history that is really tied to a lot of emotional moments within the sport.

So it was important for us to be the first, really within the sport, to enter into this foray. I think our company, 1/ST, which owns and operates the Preakness, we really stand for innovation. And so whether that’s on our wagering technology, which is 1/ST Bet, or whether that’s with just the events and sort of everything that we do behind our sport, innovation’s an important part in attracting a younger audience.

And we felt that launching a line, a collection of our NFTs, really, of our great moments would really connect with a younger audience.

ADAM SHAPIRO: For those of us who are part of your older audience, help us understand what the attraction is going to be. For instance, the NFT collection’s going to include artwork that pays homage to the Woodlawn Vase. So if I had the– I hope you get more than a million bucks. But if I had the money to buy the token, if I own that NFTs, can I do whatever I want with the image? Or do I have the licensing rights to it? Or could someone else go see this beautiful– that we’re looking at right now– 3D image that’s been created and use it in a way that I can’t, even though I own the original token to it?

DAVID WILSON: No. That’s a great question. And I’ve been asked that a lot. I mean, essentially, you don’t own the licensing rights to that content. So what you own is really the token, which is traded on Open Sea, where you can bid on it. And the token basically designates Adam or Seana saying you are the rightful owner to this NFT, this digital piece of artwork.

So the Woodland Vase, for example, is considered to be one of the most expensive trophies in sports. We’re going to be commemorating that with a special experience beyond that. And so you as sort of the rightful owner of the Woodland Vase, it’s going to be coupled with a really rare experience. We’re going to have people, whoever wins that by July 9–

So there could be a secondary market where you as the owner could win the auction could actually bid that on the secondary market and sort of sell that asset. But you don’t own the actual footage. But you own, essentially, a piece of history. And it’s much like if you were to buy a LeBron James signed, autographed card, you’re the owner of that piece. But there’s nothing that really sort of authenticates, beyond some sort of handwritten seal, certificate of approval, that you own that autographed LeBron James card.

In this instance, everything’s secured on the blockchain, which basically says, you own this piece of content. And we’re doing one of one. So we have about 15 moments from the Preakness, from our history, from 1973 Secretariat win to a montage of all of our Triple Crown winners to the Woodland Vase, as you mentioned. And we’ve couple that with rare experiences.


DAVID WILSON: Sorry, go ahead.

ADAM SHAPIRO: I’m wishing you the best. And I get it NFT, in and of itself, these tokens have value because people are willing to pay for them. But what good is it if I can’t do what I want with the physical digital art that I’ve bought?

I mean, the analogy I would use is, I had a dream last night. If I create a token tied to that dream, you’ll never see the dream, but you’ll have the token. Now, there may be a schmuck out there willing to buy it. My situation is ridiculous. But I’m trying to truly understand the value of the token.

DAVID WILSON: Well, I think consumers these days– and I totally understand. But I think what we’re seeing, just through the increase and rise in sort of cryptocurrency, I think what we’re seeing is a younger sort of audience that is tied to the digital world. And their assets–

Our generation might have been an Andy Warhol painting or print, where you have one of 50 on your wall. This generation is tethered to their phone. And I think what you were starting to see, there’s new assets that you can take ownership of, where there’s real value, where essentially, you’re owning a piece of art in the digital format.

So people have the option to invest in stocks or invest in art. And those can appreciate in value or depreciate in value. And I think what we’re seeing now is a trend toward the digital. And NFTs, there’s been a significant rise on them. We want to take risks. We want to sort of be at the forefront of innovation. And we believe that there’s a market for it.

SEANA SMITH: David Wilson, CMO at 1/ST. We wish you all the best this weekend. Thanks so much for joining us. And I know a lot of us are looking forward to the race tomorrow.

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