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Jeff Bezos and Drake invest in startup behind teen hoops league

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and music industry star Drake are investing in Overtime as part of a new $80 million round of funding for the sport startup, which is geared to fans more interested in watching game highlights on social media than three hours of ESPN.

A significant portion of  the funding will go toward athlete salaries and the more than 80 new hires at Overtime’s newly launched teen basketball league, called Overtime Elite. The league will offer a $100,000 salary to 30 players between ages 16 and 18 starting in September.

The Brooklyn-based company will also use the money in part to advance its efforts around trading cards, sports betting and cryptocurrency tokens known as NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, the company said

Bezos and Drake are joining more than 25 current and former NBA players who invested in Overtime, including Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets and Carmelo Anthony of the Portland Trailblazers. 

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On top of getting paid, Overtime Elite players will receive stock in the company, a percentage of any revenue generated from the use of their name, and the right to go after shoe deals. The teen players would also get full health coverage and $100,000 toward college tuition if they decide to further their education.

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Overtime co-founder Zack Weiner has said the company is providing these benefits because of his belief that talented players deserve to be compensated regardless of age. Currently, student athletes who play for high school or college do not receive any pay compensation.

Overtime hasn’t said who the league’s players are or if and when they will be selected. The company also hasn’t announced where games will be played. Company officials said they have narrowed their choices to two cities and will announce the venue in the coming weeks.

Overtime launched in 2016 with the aim of creating a prep sports media giant with ESPN-like credibility. Most of Overtime’s video content lives on social media, with a combined 45 million-plus followers. Overtime’s video content reaches 1.7 billion views a month across YouTube, Snapchat, IGTV, Instagram and TikTok, according to the company.

In total, Overtime has raised more than $140 million in venture capital. Some of that includes $9.5 million from Andreessen Horowitz and $23 million from Spark Capital. 

Micromanagement Ventures, Pelion Capital, Morgan Stanley Counterpoint Global and Blackstone Strategic Partners also contributed to the third funding round. Micromanagement Ventures is owned by the family of late NBA Commissioner David Stern.

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