UCLA basketball player Jaylen Clark ready to cash in with unique cryptocurrency deal

© (Ashley Landis / Associated Press) UCLA guard Jaylen Clark shoots against Washington on Jan. 16. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Jaylen Clark has provided fans a glimpse of his UCLA career on YouTube, revealing his workout routine and a day in the life of a college basketball player.

Now he’s hoping to form a deeper connection while helping his admirers cash in on the cryptocurrency craze.

The sophomore guard has become the first college athlete to release his own cryptocurrency — called $JROCK — after announcing the name, image and likeness deal Thursday to his more than 22,000 YouTube subscribers and his 59,300 followers on Instagram.

“I’ve seen comments everywhere talking about, I’m the Black Elon Musk,” Clark said later in the day with a laugh, referring to the billionaire entrepreneur. “It’s just super cool to be the first to do anything. When this goes five, six seven — even 30, 40 years from now, I can look back and be like, ‘Yeah, I remember when I kicked all this off.’ ”

Clark’s partnership with Rally, a personal cryptocurrency platform, will allow those who purchase the coin — whose price was hovering around $0.616 Thursday evening — access to ticket giveaways and special merchandise, among other benefits.

“Holding the $JROCK coin is like holding the ticket to the digital fan club for Jaylen; it’s not just like a poker chip that you’re gambling on,” said Nick Millman, Rally’s vice president of partnerships.

Clark has long been savvy about cryptocurrency, profiting off Dogecoin. He liked to track its value during bus rides with teammates, the players musing about what they would do when they cashed in their holdings.

Clark said he bought Dogecoin for a penny and sold it once it hit 70 cents, making $10,000.

“For a college kid to sit on your bed and make 10 racks and put in no effort is like crazy, like that’s not heard of,” said Clark, who averaged 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds in nine minutes per game last season but made a game-winning free throw against Arizona State and starred with nine rebounds off the bench during the Bruins’ overtime victory over Alabama in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal.

Clark was showing teammate Will McClendon his stock portfolio at a dinner when sports marketing managers Ian Brown and Andre Chevalier II, who represent Clark in his NIL dealings, asked Clark if he’d like to explore his own cryptocurrency contract, later connecting him with Rally.

It’s a partnership that could allow Clark to reach his fans in a way that social media outlets offering prizes cannot.

“Someone could click on a [YouTube] video and just get lucky and then I have to take them [to a game] and they don’t even support me like some of the diehard UCLA fans that I know I have out there,” Clark said, “so this is a way for me to kind of weed through it, if you know what I mean. So it’s super cool. As long as you hold the coin and as more people hold the coin, it goes up in value too, so it’s a win-win for everybody.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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