Nobody in the WNBA can put the ball in the basket quite like Jewell Loyd, whose 939 points scored for the Seattle Storm this past year set the league’s single-season scoring record. That surpassed Diana Taurasi’s previous record of 860 points scored in 2006.
Off the court, Loyd has become the face of crypto-savvy athlete investors for Coinbase, which has been the exclusive cryptocurrency partner of the NBA and WNBA since 2021.
The 30-year-old Chicagoland native bought her first Bitcoin in 2013 while playing collegiately at Notre Dame. Loyd and her brother, former pro basketball player Jarryd Loyd, entered the crypto market together after growing up with parents who stressed the importance of financial literacy.
“I was one of the first people to come out and publicly say I’m investing in crypto and taking some of my salary in that,” Loyd told Decrypt. “Right after that, any team we played always had one person who came up to me like ‘Yo, why’d you do this? What is this?’”
Image: Klutch Sports Group
“That was my time to educate,” she continued, “which was cool because I wasn’t the kid in school that everyone asked how they figured a question out. I was the one always asking questions. So to have that reversed was kinda cool.”
Coinbase creates crypto educational content in partnership with the WNBA, and introduced an in-person crypto crash course to rookies at the 2022 WNBA Draft. Loyd converts a portion of her WNBA salary into cryptocurrency through the Coinbase app, with Bitcoin and Ethereum comprising her majority holdings.
“To me, those are like the anchors,” she said of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the leading cryptocurrencies. “A basketball analogy is that you always need a good center. And those two are good centers for me.”
After making her fifth All-Star team this past season, Loyd signed a two-year, $463,000 contract extension with the Storm to remain where she’s won two WNBA titles (2018, 2020) since Seattle drafted her with the first-overall pick in 2015.
With salaries not nearly as lucrative as their male NBA counterparts, many WNBA players play overseas during offseasons for added income. Crypto’s decentralized nature has been useful to Loyd as she’s played for professional teams based in Turkey, China, South Korea, and Spain.
“[Coinbase] has been one of my personal favorite partnerships with the WNBA, because obviously I’m invested in it—but it also lets women get ahead in the financial world,” Loyd said. “I’m very lucky to play overseas and live overseas, but sending money and using money overseas is very hard. Having a [faster] and more inexpensive way to transfer money overseas and back and forth makes sense.”
Coinbase gave out $120,000 in Bitcoin to players on the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces as part of its sponsorship of the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup midseason tournament in August. The league has also offered NFTs to fans though Coinbase, such as a digital collectible to commemorate Loyd’s Storm teammate Sue Bird for those who attended Bird’s jersey retirement ceremony at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena in June.
Loyd said that Crypto’s biggest assist has come during her continued efforts to aid Rwanda, where Loyd and her brother send computers and money to support locals.
“We’re always trying to figure out ways to send money to help our cause, and without using crypto, it would have been so much harder,” she told Decrypt. “When they need it right away, it gets there. It’s more efficient and we see more change that way with the community we’re working with.”
“Working in Rwanda, they’re so talented. They just don’t always have the resources,” Loyd added. “I’m very passionate about giving to the next generation of kids and athletes. Anyone who wants to learn, I’m willing to help them.”
Edited by Andrew Hayward