The Irish Players Club (“IPC”) NFT collection opened for early access on February 9th. Less than 12 hours later, more than 500 Notre Dame fans had joined the list. And over 300 users are now in the Discord server. Founded by former Notre Dame football players Mick Assaf and Nic Weisher, the collection will mint 5,555 unique leprechaun NFTs on March 1 on the Ethereum blockchain, and 75% of the profits will go to active Notre Dame athletes.
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Irish Players Club: “The Irish Players Club (‘IPC’) is a collection of 5,555 unique leprechaun NFTs created by former Domers in an effort to support currently rostered Notre Dame football players. The IPC works directly with 100+ current athletes. With our mission to benefit athletes in mind, 75% of profits from the Irish Players Club will be distributed to the active players involved.” (Official Website)
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Andy: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Cryptogic. I am your host, Andy Hagans. Back with me today is Jimmy Atkinson, original co-founder of the ETF Database, founder of the Opportunity Zones Database at opportunitydb.com. He’s also an investors’ investor. I might say, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” but I don’t think that’s fair. Let’s say master of many trades.
And again, last but not least, he is a Notre Dame football superfan. And Jimmy, today, we are actually talking about something highly relevant, the intersection of Fighting Irish football and crypto/NFTs. We’re talking about the Irish Players Club, IPC NFT collection.
Jimmy, welcome to the show.
Jimmy: Andy, thanks for having me, buddy. It’s a pleasure.
Andy: So let’s talk NFTs. I’m here at the official webpage, irishplayersclub.com, and I’m just reading off the page. It’s a collection of 5555 unique leprechaun NFTs created by former Domers, former Notre Dame students, in an effort to support currently rostered Notre Dame football players. And it says the IPC works directly with 100-plus current athletes.
With our mission to benefit athletes in mind, 75% of profits from the Irish Players Club will be distributed to the active players involved. So, Jimmy, this isn’t just another NFT collection, you know, with some subpar artwork, you know, release to see if someone will come along and buy it.
This is something that’s a little bit more unique and, you know, it’s sort of the intersection of a very passionate existing community with NFT technology. So why don’t you walk us through what this is and why you’re so excited about it?
Jimmy: Yeah, so I was scrolling through Twitter last night after dinner, after I put my kids to bed, and I happened to see a post that Ian Book made. Ian Book was Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for a few years, graduated a couple of years ago. He’s a third-stringer for the New Orleans Saints now. And he was posting about this new NFT collection.
I’m like, “Huh, that sounds interesting.” You know, Andy, you and I were just starting to get more interested in NFTs and kind of going down the route of maybe making our own or joining some other NFT collection. So when I saw this, I knew, oh, this looks awesome. Let me check it out. And I checked it out, I signed up for early access. I got in the Discord last night.
And, you know…
Andy: And I’m in the Discord too. I’m a little bit more of a lurker.
Jimmy: You’re a lurker, I’m more of a participant in there.
Andy: Whereas you’re kind of… Yeah, you’re kind of the pretty popular girl at the party, just chatting it up with everybody.
Jimmy: You know, I’m chatting it up with everybody. I’d say I’m probably, you know, maybe one of the top 20 most active users in there currently. It’s still early days. But it was pretty cool to be able to get in on it, you know, within the first 500 users. I think Mick Assaf, who’s one of the founders of the collection and used to play football in Notre Dame, I think he was playing football there as a walk-on a couple of years ago and has since graduated, he mentioned last night that they just passed 500 users, which is pretty remarkable, I think it was like less than 12 hours after they launched the thing.
So, that’s the power of the passionate fan base that they have, right?
Andy: Absolutely, and let me interject, we’re not talking our book here. We don’t have any ownership in this NFT collection or anything like that, although both Jimmy and myself are Notre Dame alums and we’re interested in, you know, possibly buying one or more of these NFTs when they are released. So, you know, arguably, we might be talking in our future book but we don’t actually have any association with the Irish Players Club or anything like that aside from both being members of the Discord.
Jimmy: Yeah, we’re fans, we’re members of the Discord. You know, one of us has been pretty active in there at least. And this collection looks pretty neat for a few different reasons, right? First of all, I should say the mint date is March 1st. So right now, they’re just kind of in a marketing/pre-launch period. They’ve launched the Discord.
They’ve launched the website, and their Instagram, and their twitter, and they’ve announced kind of like the very basics, like everything you ran us through a few minutes ago, Andy, right? But they’re actually going to be minting the NFTs on March 1 and they’ll be available for purchase directly on their website and then, you know, you’ll be able to find some aftermarket on OpenSea probably later that day, I’m guessing.
Andy: Jimmy, do you know, is it going to be a Dutch auction or will they… do you know how they’ll be priced?
Jimmy: I’m not sure yet. I don’t know if they know yet. I don’t know if they know how they’re going to be priced. The floor price is still to be determined. I think the NFT… – Well, you know, I imagine it’ll be pretty affordable because, you know, Notre Dame alumni aren’t known for spending lots of money. I’m kidding, of course.
Andy: That’s a good one.
Jimmy: I’m kind of afraid I won’t be able to afford one, to be honest.
Andy: I know, I’m also fearful of that. But we’ll have to see what happens, I guess. I’m probably going to buy at least one pack. I don’t know if they’re going to release individual items or if you have to buy a pack of items. Everything I’ve read so far in the Discord seems to be hinting at having to buy a random pack and then you open the pack and you see what you got.
But it’s a little bit unclear at this point in time. It’s possible that they have… – Oh, no, that sounds like… So the pack, that, to me, sounds like Pokémon cards or magic cards.
Jimmy: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right. Or I might say baseball cards from my youth. I was more of a baseball card collector myself.
Andy: Sure, it’s gambling without the gambling.
Andy: So, you know, that adds… So the interesting thing then with the pack is, you know, from their perspective, they can release 5555 identical items then, if each one is a randomized… if you don’t know what’s inside that wrapper, which NFT, you know, you’re getting. So that’s sort of interesting.
Jimmy: Yeah, and I’m not sure if they’re randomizing how they are created or how they’re doing that exactly. I know that they’re actually soliciting input from the Discord channel right now on what types of leprechauns they should mint. So they have…if you go to irishplayersclub.com right now, you’ll see they’ve got a GIF up there of some examples of some NFTs they’ve created.
There’s, I don’t know, maybe about a dozen of them or so that kind of rifle through really quickly. Those are like their first concepts. But they’ve solicited some feedback from the Discord. I’ve given a couple of suggestions already in there. I think it would be great to have like a four horsemen-themed leprechaun or maybe… somebody else suggested a leprechaun wearing one of the really tall Irish guard hats that the band members wear.
So there’s a few different hilarious options [inaudible].
Andy: They’d have to have a bagpiper, you know, from the Notre Dame Bagpipe Band.
Jimmy: Bagpiper would be great. Andy, you were a bagpiper on campus many years ago, I remember.
Andy: I was, I was. And so they say that 75% of profits will be distributed to the active players involved. And from what I understand, you know, OpenSea or some of these platforms, they actually pay a fee to the original NFT creator even when transactions occur on the secondary market. So in theory, this wouldn’t even be a one-and-done sort of revenue stream for the Irish Players Club, right?
It could be an ongoing permanent thing?
Jimmy: It could be, yeah. And, you know, I know this is how Gary Vaynerchuk struck it rich with his VeeFriend series. I think he’s got a 10% commission set on any subsequent purchase of any of the items in his NFT collection. He always gets a cut of that. That usually varies from 0% to 10% for any particular NFT collection. I don’t know what IPC has set their commission at.
It’s possible they haven’t figured that out yet. I guess I should ask. That could be a good question to ask in the Discord. Or maybe we can get one of those guys on the podcast, at a future date, to talk about that. But yeah, you know, you brought up the fact that, you know, 75% of the profits are going to go to active players at Notre Dame. I’m not sure if it’s just football players or if it’s all sports.
They have stated that they already have agreements in place with I think, 70 or 80 current Notre Dame student athletes. This would not have been possible even a year ago. But the NCAA recently made a change whereby NCAA athletes can now profit off of their name, image, and likeness or NIL.
So this is one of those NIL NFT deals, so to speak.
Andy: So, Jimmy, we’ve talked about this briefly. So I don’t actually know too much about them, not nearly as much as you do. But you’ve mentioned that these aren’t just artwork, although they are digital art, but they also have some inherent utility. Could you talk about that? I mean, have they released all the details or some of the details?
What am I getting exactly if I buy one of these?
Jimmy: Yeah, well, first of all, you are getting a pretty amazing piece of art, right? An amazing piece of digital art. You get like a leprechaun with like a red beard, and, you know, some sort of ridiculous hat, and maybe he’s smoking a cigar, maybe he’s wearing sunglasses. You know, the standard types of things that… If you’re familiar with Bored Ape Yacht Club, it’s very similar to those types of characteristic traits, right, of the different leprechauns or Bored Apes, leprechauns in this case.
But yeah, you’re absolutely right, Andy, there’s a certain utility that you get in the real world by holding some of these NFTs. They haven’t released all of the details yet. I don’t know if they even are aware of all the details yet. They’re probably still trying to work that out on their end. But, you know, it should be stated that, you know, the creators of this were very recently on Notre Dame’s football team.
They have connections with a lot of the players and the coaching staff, and likely the athletics department over there. I’d be surprised if they didn’t get the blessing from the athletics department to go ahead and launch this thing. So some of the perks that you’ll get when you own some of these different NFTs, they’ve announced, you know, they’re going to have… I’m reading their Discord right now.
They’re going to release a more detailed road map at some point in the near future, but besides that 75% profit benefiting Irish athletes directly, holders of the NFTs are also going to gain access to exclusive player content and in-person events with players. So think autograph signings, pre-game tailgate events, access to both current and former players, Q&A sessions, exclusive stuff like that.
And then Mick also mentioned that they’ll likely do some sort of player-run youth football camp too. So if you’re in South Bend, in particular, or in the surrounding area, and you’ve got a kid who wants to, you know, go work out with some Notre Dame football players, if you hold one of the NFTs, I mean, you get the opportunity to do that, which is pretty neat, I think.
Andy: Do they let 38-year-old men participate in the youth football camp?
Jimmy: So they do have… Notre Dame has, for a while, actually had some fantasy camp where old men like us could actually like go and pay a ton of money and run out of that tunnel wearing golden helmets. Not for me, and probably not for you either, Andy.
Jimmy: But some guys are really into that. Maybe that’ll be on their road map at some point.
Andy: Yeah. No, I was kidding, but, you know, I do like [crosstalk].
Jimmy: You thought you were joking, but that does actually exist.
Andy: If it exists, any Notre Dame football fan will pay for it. If a Notre Dame football fan will pay for it, it probably will exist, right?
Jimmy: That’s absolutely right.
Andy: This is kind of interesting because, Jimmy, it reminds me of being a member of the Boosters or, you know, donating to certain fundraising campaigns where, you know, certain level of donor amount will get you in the gold circle, or the player circle, or the president circle, or the president square, or the vice president’s triangle, the chancellor’s cir-… I’m kidding. But, you know, there’s all those different tiers, but, of course, there, the university is getting a cut.
This is more going directly to the players and obviously, the creators of these NFTs, which is kind of cool.
Jimmy: It’s a little more grassroots-organized. It’s a little bit more passion-driven too. The types of fans that are in there are more guys like me, not necessarily, you know, the CEO of Coca-Cola who’s able to stroke a $100-million check to the university. I don’t know if that is taking place or not at Coca-Cola. That’s just one example, though.
I think you know what I mean there.
Andy: Yeah, but Jimmy, one concern I have is by doing it at the grassroots level like this, you know, directly, with some of the money directly going to players or 75% of it directly going to players, the university isn’t getting any of that revenue stream. And from what I understand, the University of Notre Dame is really hurting for money donations right now.
Jimmy: I think Notre Dame has one of the largest university endowments in the country. They’re not quite Harvard but I think they’re top 10 or top 15. They’re doing okay. And I think the university probably likes this too because it gives them one more thing to point to when they’re recruiting athletes to come play football, or basketball, or what have you, at Notre Dame.
They could say, “Hey, you know, not only do you get this world-class education, you get to play on NBC every Saturday and play at Notre Dame Stadium. But now also, this NFT collection directly benefits your wallet. You’re going to get some cash for coming here through this program.” And the university is not able to set up stuff like this directly under current NCAA regulations.
It has to kind of come through a third-party system like this. This is all still kind of evolving and is new territory. But I’d be shocked if Notre Dame was the only university offering some sort of NFT collection. This is the first that I’ve heard of. But, you know, Ohio State should be doing this.
Michigan should be doing this. Alabama should be doing this in some form. All those other big football programs should be doing something like this. I’d be surprised if we didn’t see more of these coming down the pipe in the near future.
Andy: Absolutely. Well, Jimmy, the launch now is in less than three weeks, I believe. So, what I’d like to do is have you back on Cryptogic, either right before the launch or maybe right after it. And as we learn more details about this NFT series, I think it’s really interesting to kind of discuss it on the show in real time as it occurs.
So if you’re interested, I’d love to have you back on the show. But in the meantime, could you direct our viewers or listeners, if they want to learn more about this NFT collection, where should they go? Should they go to the website? Should they join the Discord?
Jimmy: Actually, head to the Cryptogic show notes page and we have an invitation link to join the Discord. So go to cryptogic.com/podcast. Find this episode on the Irish Players Club NF and we’ll have a link to join the Discord. I’m able to invite people through my account there. And you can also sign up for the early release email list directly at irishplayersclub.com.
And I’m looking forward to it. And Andy, I’ll definitely take you up on that offer to join again and talk more about my collection. It may be great to get me on like the day of the release or the day after and I can open up my pack. Maybe we can have a pack opening.
Andy: Oh, man, that would be awesome.
Jimmy: And we can see what I got. We can see if I got the leprechaun wearing the Catholics versus Convicts shirt, or the guy wearing the little white priest thing there. What’s that thing called, Andy, that the priests wear? You know what I’m talking about.
Andy: Oh, shoot, you’re going to stump me. The Roman collar?
Jimmy: The Roman collar, we’ll go with that.
Andy: Yeah, so if anyone wants any links to the Irish Players Club, we’ll have, you know, Twitter links, Discord link, website link, we’ll have all that in our show notes, cryptogic.com/podcast. My guest again today is Jimmy Atkinson. And we’ll be back soon with another episode of Cryptogic.
Jimmy: Thanks, Andy.