Count two former perennial NFL Pro Bowlers — wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and longtime New York Jets center and captain Nick Mangold — alongside soccer great and Team USA goalkeeper Tim Howard among the many prominent former athletes who now represent U.S. sports betting brands.
Wynn Interactive announced on Wednesday that the trio would become brand ambassadors for WynnBET, a competitor in the second wave of U.S. sportsbooks that’s quickly expanded its footprint into seven states (Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia) — with entry coming soon into two more (Iowa, Pennsylvania).
Per WynnBet’s announcement, the trio will appear in WynnBET advertising, “attend in-person events, and promote the WynnBET app, in addition to interacting as guests at the Blue Wire Podcast Studio at Wynn Las Vegas.” WynnBet users will also see the gridiron and soccer greats appear on in-app promotions and odds boosts “tailored to the ambassadors’ interests and personalities.”
“You know I love my fans, and Wynn is known for focusing on providing the best guest experience, which is why WynnBet is a perfect partner,” said Johnson, who boasts a combined social-media following of 5 million and wore No. 85 throughout his career. “This is all about connecting directly with sports betting fans to provide great entertainment and conversation through social media and in-person events.”
It’s also about one of the NFL’s top wide receivers — who amassed 766 receptions, 11,059 yards, and 67 touchdowns in his career — earning a few bucks off his name, likeness, and stature.
New Jersey roots
Introducing @WynnBET's newest brand ambassadors: Chad ‘Ochocinco’ Johnson, Tim Howard and Nick Mangold.
The trio of sports legends will appear in WynnBET advertising, attend in-person events and promote the WynnBET app. pic.twitter.com/bLpWbaJD08
— WynnBET (@WynnBET) July 14, 2021
The somewhat less flamboyant pair of greats, Mangold and Howard, both have New York/New Jersey roots. Mangold was one of the league’s top centers as anchor for the Jets’ offensive line from 2006-2016 during their Rex Ryan-coached AFC Championship game runs (both losses). He’s now a resident of New Jersey, which is also the birthplace of goalkeeper Howard.
“I’ve played football for almost my entire life, and never realized how entertaining it is to bet on the sport and interact with other fans about betting,” Mangold said. “Now that I’m retired, I’ve enjoyed learning the role that betting and social interaction plays in enhancing my enjoyment of the game. The WynnBET app makes that easy for me in my current home state of New Jersey. I’m excited to partner with WynnBET to let fans know what an entertaining and user-friendly experience the app provides.”
Howard, a Nike athlete who transitioned into a role as analyst for NBC Sports Network after hanging up his cleats, suited up in the United States Men’s National Soccer Team soccer kit more than any other player in history. He also found success overseas as the goaltender for Manchester United of the English Premier League, as well as with several Major League Soccer franchises, including the New York MetroStars (now the Red Bulls).
Huge news today! I’m partnering up with @WynnBET . Stay tuned for my expert picks, exclusive interviews, soccer and football promotions, and for a shot to win some great prizes! I’m pumped to be teaming up with the premier sportsbook @WynnBET ! #ad pic.twitter.com/oC8wLgjAYC
— Tim Howard (@TimHowardGK) July 14, 2021
Ambitions high despite modest performance to date
Wynn Interactive operates its sportsbook and online casino app under the Wynn Resorts Ltd. umbrella (Nasdaq: WYNN). Wynn has anchored itself as a luxury brand in Las Vegas with its flagship properties Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Las Vegas. Wynn Interactive represents the partnership of BetBull Limited, an online gaming company based in the U.K.
Ambitions and targets are quite high for WynnBET’s sportsbook and casino app. Wynn Interactive saw a capital infusion of $80 million right off the bat in November 2020 and recently joined the SPAC bonanza by announcing its merger in May with Austerlitz Acquisition Corp. in a $3.2 billion deal. The new listing will appear on the Nasdaq exchange as WBET. Per Bloomberg:
The company projected online revenue of $708 million in 2023, based on a 5% to 7% share of the U.S. market. Its current annual run rate is about $100 million, executives said on a conference call for investors. The new entity will also take over the sports books at the Wynn properties in Las Vegas.
It’s still very early times, but WynnBET’s early performance is uninspiring, with only a 4% market share in online casino and 1% for sports betting in Michigan, which was a shotgun launch state in January that saw all contenders start on equal footing. And, at this point, WynnBET has made similarly modest strides in Indiana and Virginia.
But the arrow is pointing up, rapid investments continue, and WynnBET is hoping Howard, Mangold, and Ochocinco can help it climb closer to the middle of the standings.
Photo: USA Today Sports Images