It wasn't too long ago football stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. carried the PokerStars torch around the world.
Tennis aces Rafael Nadal and Boris Becker also did their share of heavy lifting connecting sports and poker and bringing the game to the masses.
With millions of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter followers between them all and fanatical fans around the globe, it was hard to think of any bigger names or more "shining" stars to do so.
Then along came American comedian/actor Kevin Hart. And now, PokerStars announced today, the baton has been passed to fastest man in the world.
Fast, Not Just Funny
The massive signing of Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt was announced today by both a post on the PokerStars blog and the below Twitter post from Bolt, who threw the gauntlet down to 'little man' Hart:
That's funny on a couple of levels but also a pretty clear hint there've been a couple of key words up on the PokerStars marketing white board for a while now:
It certainly speaks to PokerStars' continued shift towards the recreational player and, much like Bolt himself, comprises a big part of the holy trinity that poker achieves at its best:
"PokerStars is a winner," Bolt said in the release, "and I'm happy to join Kevin in helping to bring poker and PokerStars to the masses.
"It's a challenging game that's fun, social, and competitive, so I'm pleased to be able to introduce it to my fans and to people around the world."
According to the release Bolt "will represent PokerStars in marketing campaigns and live appearances geared toward introducing new audiences to poker"
"Usain Bolt is a fierce competitor,' added PokerStars Head of Corproate Communications Eric Hollreiser, "who pushes his game to the limits. But he's also one of the most-liked athletes in the world. His strong global following and winning personality will help us to introduce poker in a fun, social and fast way."
Hart/Bolt Make Formidable Duo
Beyond their endearing Schwarzenegger/Devito height difference the duo of Bolt and Hart is a powerful one.
Hart's 52.6 million (!) Instagram fans have already been exposed to his joy-filled poker exploits at the PSC Bahamas, PSC Monaco and the $300k Super High Roller Bowl and he's been more than generous with the poker retweets to his 34.4m (!) Twitter followers.
While Bolt's Twitter followers are a 'paltry' 4.7m and his Instagram sits at 'just' 6.9m, it's hard to think of a more universally loved or acclaimed athlete.
Bolt is also at the tail end of his stunning athletic career (rather than right in the middle of it like Ronaldo and Neymar), which should give him ample opportunity to both work on and promote the game.
The back and forth between the two should also be memorable, as Hart already has fired back: