Like everyone else, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman has had his life grind to a standstill because of the coronavirus outbreak. But being housebound is not all that bad for the one-time Super Bowl champion and five-time Pro Bowler. For one, he has a Peloton at home to use while his normal off-season training is disrupted. For another, the avid gamer, known as MrRUNnGUN25, has plenty of free time to play Call of Duty.
Today, he gets to play with friends, including the Philadelphia Eagles’ newly signed cornerback Darius Slay and professional gamer Josiah “Slacked” Berry. They will join up with other popular streamers, musicians, athletes and celebrities on streaming service Twitch for Stream Aid 2020, a charity event—like Live Aid but online—to raise money for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
“We’re playing [Call of Duty] Warzone, and I’m going to get my loadout and pull four or five kills,” he told Forbes by phone, talking some smack about how he was going to dominate. “I’m definitely going to provide some laughs.”
Over 12 hours of programming, from noon to midnight Eastern, a who’s who of celebrity guests will make an appearance on the Amazon-owned platform, including Fortnite streaming star Nick “Nick Eh 30” Amyoony; Mr. Sophie Turner, Joe Jonas; a Forbes highest-paid DJ in Diplo; award-winning singers John Legend, Garth Brooks and Rita Ora; and athletes including two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, WWE wrestler Cesaro, F1 driver Lando Norris and players from David Beckham’s MLS team Inter Miami—all live-streaming from the social-distancing-safe confines of their own homes.
Esports company Enthusiast Gaming, which counts Sherman as an ambassador and among its minority shareholders, is serving as Twitch’s partner for the event. Through its subsidiary Luminosity Gaming, it will lend its Seattle Surge team in Activision’s Call of Duty League to participate. But its main role: to mobilize the 200 million gamers it connects with on a monthly basis across its gaming websites and YouTube channels.
President Menashe Kestenbaum told Forbes via video conference that the company is replacing advertisements on the company’s digital platform with promotions for the event and embedding the stream for the full 12 hours across all its properties.
“We are giving up revenue, actually,” said Kestenbaum. “And we are happy to—to provide an environment that allows viewers to feel whole and allow them to connect.”
Enthusiast, based in Canada and publicly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is worth $80 million and is in contention to join the ranks of Forbes’ most valuable esports companies this year.
Charity drives are nothing new to Twitch. In December, one of its newly signed content creators, Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo, raised $3 million during a 24-hour stream for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
To date, WHO has raised $108 million from over 200,000 donors for these COVID-19 efforts. Money is being used to support their work to track the spread of the virus, get frontline workers essential supplies, and aid in the development of vaccines, tests and treatments.
“I am excited to help raise money and raise awareness for this cause,” said Sherman. “And just as important, entertain everyone and take their minds off of it for a few minutes.”