Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson’s NFL career ended nearly a decade ago at a time when the league was still fighting against legalized sports betting.
That landscape has changed. The NFL — which spent years and considerable amounts of money on lawyers and lobbyists to keep state-sanctioned sports betting limited to Nevada — enters the 2021 season with sportsbook partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel worth close to $1 billion over five years.
“As long as the NFL can capitalize, it’s going to be huge,” Johnson told Front Office Sports. “The integrity and NFL shield, all that is extremely important, but that is smoke and mirrors based on what they really care about.”
Johnson, 43, has been named as one of the first athlete ambassadors for WynnBET, the company announced. He will appear in WynnBET branding, attend in-person events, promote the WynnBET app, and collaborate with the Blue Wire Podcast Studio at Wynn Las Vegas.
“I think WynnBET is the next big thing in legalized sports betting,” Johnson said.
WynnBET is a mobile sports betting app from the luxury hospitality company Wynn Resorts, currently available in six states: New Jersey, Colorado, Michigan, Virginia, Indiana, and Tennessee. Other brand ambassadors include goalkeeper Tim Howard and former NFL center Nick Mangold.
Johnson’s agent, Douglas Sanders, describes Johnson’s new partnership as a “good natural progression” for the former wide receiver. Johnson also has a partnership with Bleacher Report’s B/R Betting, which started in 2019.
On Saturday, he attended UFC 264 in Las Vegas, where Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier was the main event. Johnson was featured across various Bleacher Report platforms before, during and after the event.
Johnson stays busy across a variety of ventures:
- He’s a “Madden Ratings Adjuster” for EA’s “Madden NFL” series and has his own Ochocinco Gaming esports team.
- He co-hosts the popular “I AM Athlete” podcast alongside Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor, and Channing Crowder.
- He made his exhibition boxing debut against pro MMA fighter Brian Maxwell on June 6. Although a winner was not declared, Johnson lasted all four rounds.
While his charisma can light up a room, it’s unlikely Johnson makes the jump to a permanent media role any time soon.
“I’m not sure,” Johnson replied when asked whether he would take a gig on radio or television. “Usually when you become part of the media, they really stifle who you are.”