Chinese cryptocurrency-mining giant Bitmain Technologies is now a sponsor of the Houston Rockets basketball team after a contract signing on September 19th.

Antpool, a subsidiary of Bitmain, inked the deal for an undisclosed sum and pledges to invest US$500 million in the Texan economy over the next seven years, according to a Facebook post by Antpool.

“As far as professional sports teams go, the Houston Rockets are legendary across the globe,” Antpool Overseas Operations Manager Haijiao Li explained. “What better way to continue the momentum of our U.S. expansion than partnering with the prolific Houston Rockets basketball club?”

Antpool employees meet members of the Houston Rockets on September 19th in Houston, Texas.

A Slam Dunk for Both Sides

Rockets’ Vice President of Corporate Development John Croley sees the sponsorship as an opportunity to stay ahead of the competition.

“We’re excited to work with AntPool as a conduit in the U.S. for their ever-growing business,” he told the media. “The Rockets are always looking to stay ahead of the curve with technology both on and off the court.”

The deal includes an Antpool exhibition space from January 19th onwards inside the stadium where the Rockets play.

“We welcome Rockets fans and those traveling to Houston to visit our showcase at Toyota Centre,” said Mr. Li. “[We want people] to learn more about the technology that will change the world.”

Antpool accounts for a large amount of cryptocurrency mining equipment sold globally. Its parent company Bitmain reported more than $4 billion in profits last year. This number will probably rise as the company expands into foreign countries.

Staying in the Game

Bitmain has copped criticism recently over fears of market dominance in an industry built around decentralisation.

According to Chris Douhith at HackerNoon, “it is the first time that one company has so much control and influence over something that, in theory, should be distributed out over a much broader area.”

In light of this, Antpool’s sponsorship of the Rockets is more than a publicity scheme in the US.

The Houston Rockets’ star centre player Yao Ming lines up a shot

Riding on the prestigious reputation of the team, it is a way to for the embattled crypto mining company to secure legitimacy back home.

The Houston Rockets rose to extreme popularity in China after drafting Chinese basketball player Yao Ming in 2002. Yao played centre for the Houston Rockets until his retirement in 2011.