When Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo walked down the tunnel at the National Basketball Association All-Star Game Sunday night, it marked the start of a brand partnership with WhatsApp.
Antetokounmpo, WhatsApp’s first ever global partner, said in a statement, “Throughout my life, WhatsApp has kept me connected to my loved ones, my friends, my communities and everyone important to me. It’s a link to home in Greece and a link to my family roots in Nigeria. Having easy access to my communities has helped build me into the person and athlete I am today, and working with WhatsApp—a messaging service that I use every day to stay connected with family—is important to me. I look forward to building on this partnership together.”
When he walked down the tunnel Sunday night, Antetokounmpo wore a custom hoodie designed by Post Imperial, the fashion brand founded by Nigerian-American designer Niyi Okuboyejo.
The corduroy chenille hoodie features Antetokounmpo’s jersey number, 34, converted to +234, the international calling code for Nigeria, and the back features his family name, Adetokunbo, meant as a nod to the type of connections fostered by the Meta-owned messaging application.
WhatsApp head of global brand and integrated marketing Vivian Odior said in a statement, “Giannis’ success is fueled by the deep relationships he has in his life, and it’s been an honor to hear that WhatsApp has helped keep those relationships strong throughout the years. We’re excited for Giannis to be WhatsApp’s first global brand partner. Giannis is one of the billions of people who use WhatsApp every day to stay connected with friends and family, and his story is a perfect example of why we do what we do every day.”
Antetokuonmpo added, “Those who know my story know that I’m Greek and Nigerian: I was raised in Greece, but my roots are Nigerian. Growing up, the best way I could connect to my family in Nigeria was through WhatsApp. As humans, we’re a collection of experiences, and learning about where I came from has kept me close to my identity as I continue to evolve as an athlete and person.”
And Okuboyejo said, “If you have ever been to Nigeria, you understand that we move and communicate via WhatsApp. As a Nigerian-American designer, it was an incredible honor to collaborate with Giannis and WhatsApp. Giannis represents a pinnacle of excellence in our community and our commitment to thrive. The hoodie is an ode to our Nigerian roots, inspired by the Nigerian flag. This was a collaboration between myself, Giannis, local Nigerian dye artisans and Nigerian tailors, all connected through WhatsApp.”
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