Sports | April 23, 2021 3:09 pm

Jeff Bezos and Drake Want to Pay High Schoolers to Play Basketball

The startup also received funding from more than 20 current and former NBA players

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos attends a commemoration ceremony in Istanbul.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Brooklyn-based sports-media startup with plans to pay high schoolers a minimum salary of $100,000 per year to play basketball in a new league has secured funding from a number of big names.

Overtime, which had already raised millions of dollars, just secured $80 million in Series C funding from investors including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, music star Drake, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and more than 25 NBA players, including Trae Young, Devin Booker, Klay Thompson, Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins and Kyle Lowry, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to paying its athletes and giving them insurance benefits, Overtime Elite (which will debut in September) will allow its players — around 30 rising high school juniors and seniors — to profit off their name and image. The league will also function as a high school and award diplomas, but participating in it will mean forgoing traditional high school or NCAA basketball.

Of the 80 employees that Overtime plans to hire to work for the league, about 40 will produce content. “What we are trying to do is build an amazing media property that we feel hundreds of millions of young people will want to watch,” Overtime co-founder and president Zack Weiner told The Journal.

With a combined 45 million-plus followers spread across YouTube, Snapchat, IGTV, Instagram and TikTok, Overtime’s video content receives 1.7 billion views per month. “We’re the leading brand for the next generation of sports fans, reaching them through our social channels, our long-form series, our e-commerce business and now a sports league,” Weiner said. “Sports consumption is changing at a rapid pace, and Overtime will continue to be at the forefront.”

In addition to helping to pay for the new league, Overtime’s new funding will go toward initiatives related to developing NFTs, trading cards and sports betting content. Since its founding in 2016, Overtime has raised a total of about $140 million.