Step Announces Exclusive Partnership With Fortnite World Cup Champion, Bugha

As the company’s newest investor, Step x Bugha brings accessible financial tools and unique in-game activations to teen gamers.

(Photo: Business Wire)

PALO ALTO, Calif.--()--Step, the all-in-one financial solution built for the next generation, today announced an exclusive partnership with Fortnite World Cup Champion and two-time Esports Player of the Year, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf of Sentinels Pro. The partnership aims to provide teen gamers with access to modern financial products that help them make gaming purchases, manage their esports winnings responsibly and improve gameplay with a unique opportunity to train alongside Bugha himself.

The Gen Z gaming craze

Gaming is massively popular among Gen Z consumers with an estimated 45 million U.S. teens playing video games, representing 20% of the industry overall. This figure is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years as more teens aspire to turn these hobbies into full-time gigs on the competitive esports circuit, much like Bugha did.

In 2019, the 16-year-old Pennsylvania native won the inaugural Fortnite World Cup, beating out 40 million players for the title and a $3 million prize. Today, Bugha is at the top of his game, ranked the 12th highest earner in all of esports and just added the title of Step investor to his resume. As for Fortnite, it’s become the third most-played game worldwide with over 350 million registered players, hitting more than 3.2 billion hours of gameplay each month. However, as more teen gamers are pivoting to competitive play––with $6 million prize pools at stake––it’s highlighted several gaps that need to be closed in order to meet their modern financial needs.

Why teen gamers need better financial tools

With 34% of teens still unbanked, many Gen Z gamers don’t have access to their own financial tools. Whether they’re looking for a way to pay for game upgrades or need somewhere to put their esports earnings, there’s still a heavy reliance on their parents. As a result, teen gamers are left with very limited access, personal ownership or responsibility over their money. The Step x Bugha partnership is an early effort to tackle some of these long-standing challenges and free up teens to enjoy gaming on their own terms.

“When I first got into esports, I was faced with a lot of obstacles as the equipment was upwards of $1,000 and winnings were typically distributed through platforms that required you to be at least 18-years-old like PayPal,” said Bugha, the Sentinels Fortnite Pro. “Esports as an industry hasn’t catered well to teens, so I’m thrilled to be partnering with Step to make it accessible to more people and ensure every teen gamer has access to the financial tools they need.”

Introducing the Step x Bugha partnership

Over the next year, this partnership will help prepare teen gamers for their futures both on and off the screen, providing crucial financial tools, education and first-hand gaming experiences with Bugha. Additionally, a $5,000 prize pool will be up for grabs during each stream and one lucky gamer will also receive a scholarship to help them pursue esports professionally, following in Bugha’s footsteps.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Bugha into the #StepFam and help provide teens with the financial tools they need to make their esports dreams become a reality,” said CJ MacDonald, Founder and CEO at Step. “As we look to play an increasingly important role in our customers’ lives, we’re redefining what it means to be a trusted financial partner, moving beyond a mere way to transact by offering exclusive experiences with top creators to help teens further their career aspirations today.”

To learn more about this exclusive partnership, visit:

About Step

Step was founded by financial industry veterans CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko to provide teens and their families with financial tools for today’s modern-day banking needs and to promote financial literacy for the future. The founding team has 50+ years in combined financial technology experience from companies like First Data, Google, Gyft and Square. The Series C company has raised more than $175 million in venture funding, backed by Coatue, Collaborative Fund, Crosslink Capital, General Catalyst, Stripe and several other prominent investors. Step’s financial products are powered by its bank partner, Evolve Bank & Trust, Member FDIC and insured up to $250,000. To learn more, please visit:

Get Started Today

If you’re new to Step, sign up with code BUGHA and open your account with $5 courtesy of Step. Then, to access the Fortnite #StepUpMap, you can grab the island code from our website. Once you’ve played the map, take a screenshot of your results and share it on Instagram or Twitter using #StepUpMap or send us an email at: Then, 16 lucky players (and their trio) will be selected for each of the six bi-monthly streams, enabling them to face off with Bugha for a chance to win $5,000. Tune into the #StepSundayStreams on Twitch to watch all the action. Additional terms, conditions and competition dates will be released soon. Read more here:


Ellen D. Kiehl


Ellen D. Kiehl