MONTREAL, May 7, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Brazil's star striker and team captain will promote poker and represent PokerStars
Brazil's football icon Neymar Jr has taken his love of poker to the next level by becoming an ambassador for the world's most popular poker company PokerStars, Amaya Inc. (TSX: AYA), announced today.
Neymar Jr, who is as much a phenomenon in social media as he is on the football pitch, will promote PokerStars in advertising, charitable events and special appearances, including participating in major live and online poker tournaments. The young Brazilian has a massive social following worldwide with more than 18 million Twitter followers and 51.2 million Facebook fans.
"Neymar Jr is one of the brightest stars in the sporting world and PokerStars is proud to be associated with him. Together we will grow the popularity of poker and show new audiences the competitive, fun and strategic game of poker," said Michael Hazel, interim CEO of PokerStars. "Working with Neymar Jr continues PokerStars' history of investing in mainstream athletes who want to leverage their success in competitive sports to become successful poker players."
Amaya Chairman and CEO David Baazov said the signing is an investment in the growth of poker globally. "Neymar Jr is a young and extremely charismatic megastar who loves interacting with fans on social media, is comfortable on camera and loves the game of poker," Baazov said. "And as a superstar with one of the world's most famous football clubs and football nations, his appeal is global. This partnership is a great opportunity to market the game of poker across the globe and attract new fans."
An avid and passionate poker player, Neymar Jr regularly posts photos and videos on his Instagram about his poker exploits, including home games with his friends, as well as photos with his dog, aptly named 'Poker', sharing his love of the game with a following of 14.5 million.
"Growing up and playing football everyday has made me a competitive person. When I'm not playing football, playing poker and competing against my teammates on the road or in home games with friends is one of my favourite things to do," said Neymar Jr.
"To be a successful poker player, you require many of the same skills needed to be a successful footballer - mental strength is important; resilience, patience, composure and focus. I love the challenge, whether it's on the football pitch or at the poker table," he continued.
Over the years, numerous athletes have taken their determination, focus, and strategic thinking to the green baize of the poker table. The many parallels drawn between competitive sports make Neymar Jr a natural fit for PokerStars.
As the newest member of Team PokerStars, Neymar Jr joins a winning team of some of the best poker players in the world, as well as other celebrated athletes such as Brazilian football legend Ronaldo 'el Fenómeno' Nazário de Lima, 14-time Grand Slam tennis champion Rafa Nadal, and Holland's Beijing Olympic gold winning field hockey captain Fatima Moreira de Melo.
The signing of Neymar Jr is part of PokerStars' commitment to bringing the excitement of playing poker to new audiences. PokerStars will also be working with the Neymar Jr Project Institute via its corporate giving programme, Helping Hands.
The 12th season of the PokerStars European Poker Tour kicks off in Barcelona this August. The action-packed festival always attracts huge numbers but is certain to be even more popular this year with Neymar Jr demonstrating his poker skills in a series of "Celebrity Duels". Poker players and football fans will also be given the chance to meet Neymar Jr face-to-face, and even have a chance to play against him in this special poker game.
Neymar Jr will play on PokerStars under the User ID 'neymar-jr'.
PokerStars operates the world's most popular online poker sites, serving the global poker community. Since it launched in 2001, PokerStars has become the first choice of players all over the world, with more daily tournaments than anywhere else and with the best security online. More than 130 billion hands have been dealt on PokerStars, which is more than any other site.
PokerStars.com and PokerStars.eu operate globally under licenses from the Isle of Man and Malta governments, respectively. PokerStars also holds separate government licenses in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
PokerStars is a member of The Rational Group, which operates gaming-related businesses and brands, including PokerStars, Full Tilt and the European Poker Tour. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Rational Group companies in the UK and Isle of Man won recognition as one of the best workplaces in the UK being awarded a top 25 position by the Great Place to Work Institute's Best Workplaces - Large category rankings. Rational Group entities in Costa Rica and Dublin also achieved the same accolade in their respective local rankings in 2014. PokerStars is owned by Amaya Inc. (TSX: AYA).