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Toronto FC’s commercial for Jermain Defoe is strangely hilarious

Toronto FC’s recent acquisition of U.K. soccer star Jermain Defoe (for which we apparently have Drake to thank) may not help the team break its lifelong losing streak, but it has already had two very noticeable effects: season tickets are virtually sold out, and then there’s also this fairly entertaining commercial, shot for the team by ad agency Sid Lee. It has British people doing spit-takes—so, something for everyone, really. In reality, U.K. fans probably aren’t quite so shocked by Defoe’s decampment, especially given the $10 million incentive (which is reportedly how much his contract is worth), and considering his age. To paraphrase Brad Pitt in Moneyball, the plan appears to be for Toronto FC to squeeze the last bits of soccer out of Defoe before the 31-year-old is ready to hang up his cleats.

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UPDATED: Drake’s limited-edition Nike sneakers are going for $100,000 on eBay

(Image: Ebay)

(Image: eBay)

Apparently, anything Drake touches turns to gold—or at least salable merchandise. At Saturday’s “Drake Night” Raptors game at the ACC, the city’s ruling rap star (and Raptors “global ambassador”) bestowed gifts upon the assembled masses: 20,000 long-sleeved tees for the crowd and, for two extremely lucky plebes, a pair of as-yet-unreleased OVO Air Jordan kicks, designed by Drake in collaboration with Nike.

As previously reported, the free shirts are currently being hocked on Craigslist for up to $300. Now a pair of shoes is also up for grabs—for a cool hundred Gs. The Toronto Star reports that the sneakers were posted to eBay with a suggested starting bid of $300, which quickly snowballed to preposterous levels over the course of a few days and 153 subsequent bids. (With four days left on the auction, there’s still plenty of time for the price tag to climb even higher.) The lesson from all this, obviously, is clear: if you’re looking for a foolproof retirement plan, just get Drake to touch all your stuff.

UPDATE: It appears that Drake’s golden touch isn’t quite as powerful as it seemed. Canadian music site Aux followed up with Devon Little, one of the two Torontonians who placed the coveted sneakers on eBay and quickly drew six-digit bids. Little claimed that despite all the hoopla the shoes attracted (including interview requests from CTV and the Toronto Star and a personal telephone call from the head honcho at eBay Canada), the sky-high bids for the shoes were just a hoax.

“We started cancelling bids because obviously people were just trolling and wanted to be a part of this thing,” Little told Aux. He got in touch with the woman who won the second pair of shoes and found that her high bidders had also failed to follow through. “It was all hype,” Little said. “The market was never real.” The public’s rabid interest in the story, on the other hand, was legitand so alarming that it prompted Little to move the shoes to a safe box out of town. “I didn’t feel comfortable with the shoes in my house,” he said.

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Drake flaunts a Raptor-themed novelty jacket at Saturday’s game (and accidentally fuels a black market for free shirts)

(Images: Dave Haggith/Twitter, left; Craigslist, right)

(Images: Dave Haggith/Twitter, left; Craigslist, right)

Toronto b-ball fans and Drake devotees spent the weekend gossiping about the hip-hopper’s latest sartorial statement: a Raptors-themed suit jacket that he modeled for the media after the Toronto team’s “Drake Night” game at the ACC on Saturday. The light-brown suit topper looked ordinary enough to the unsuspecting eye. The flair was on the inside, in the form of a lining fashioned out of former Raptor Vince Carter’s rookie jersey.

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Year in Review: Toronto’s 10 big winners of 2013

Who had a good year in 2013?

Plenty of Toronto’s celebrities, politicians, business leaders and sports stars are doing very well for themselves, but each year there are a few who rise above the rest by capturing imaginations both at home and around the world. Who managed to do that in 2013? Here’s our list of 10 Torontonians—seven humans and three animals—who seized everything the year had to offer.

RELATED: Check out our list of 2013′s losers »

Who had a good year in 2013?
Tatiana Maslany: Starlet

If there’s one thing Canadians are good at, it’s being smug when one of our actors gets international acclaim. So let’s be smug right now. Saskatchewan’s Tatiana Maslany blew people’s minds with her acting chops on BBC America’s Orphan Black, a sci-fi television series that’s filmed in Toronto. In the show, she plays seven different clones with wildly different personalities. Maslany received some well-deserved recognition this year, with a Critics’ Choice Television Award, a People’s Choice nomination and a Golden Globe nomination, among other distinctions.

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Culture

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VIDEO: Kanye West and Drake’s impromptu party performance on Bathurst Street

kanye-west-drake-hoxton

Kanye West‘s Yeezus tour was in town on Sunday, and while the concert itself was relatively normal (in that Kanye, as is his wont, devoted a bit of time to stream-of-consciousness ranting), the real news came afterwards, during an after-party at The Hoxton on Bathurst Street. There, Kanye encountered Drake (whom he has called a “rap god”), and the two of them sang, danced and quite literally swung from the rafters in front of an understandably excited crowd. A video of the party, from Instragram user thatdudemcfly, is below. [New York Magazine]

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U.K. soccer star Jermain Defoe is joining Toronto FC because Drake told him to

Drake at BMO Field, in TFC duds. (Image: Drake's Instagram.)

Drake at BMO Field, in TFC duds. (Image: Drake’s Instagram.)

Here’s something to add to Drake‘s growing list of accomplishments, along with international stardom and mastery of footwear design: he’s developing a knack for persuasion. How else to explain the fact that a phone call from him was, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, a decisive factor in the success of Toronto FC’s campaign to woo British soccer player Jermain Defoe to our city’s faltering squad?

Defoe, who at 31 is already nearing retirement age in the U.K., will reportedly receive more than $150,000 a week, plus two houses and unlimited airfare for himself and his family, after he makes his expected move to Hogtown. Toronto FC officials have yet to confirm the long-rumoured arrangement, but the Globe reports that insiders consider the deal to be virtually done. The Tottenham Hotspur player will be joining a team renowned for its losing record—but we guess a phone call from Drake is all it takes to soothe the ego of an aging professional athlete. Suddenly the rapper’s “global ambassador” gig with the Toronto Raptors doesn’t seem like such a weird concept.

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PHOTO: Drake is designing shoes for Nike, and Instagramming about it

(Image: Drake/Instagram)

(Image: Drake/Instagram)

The Toronto-born hiphopper went online this week to flaunt the results of his “labour” as Nike’s brand-new celeb designer. The gig belonged to Kanye West until he jumped ship to Adidas over a royalty dispute. The reason for the split, in Yeezus’s words: “I have to provide for my family.” Riiiight.

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People

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PHOTO: Drake’s Toronto-centric birthday cake

(Image: Drake/Instagram)

(Image: Drake/Instagram)

The hip hop star celebrated his 27th birthday with a confectionery ode to Toronto. Naturally, the cake highlights the CN Tower, along with all the other stuff that makes this city great: Shoppers Drug Mart, Starbucks, a billboard next to the Gardiner Expressway, and a Kennedy Road hookah bar with crappy Yelp reviews. Represent!

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Drake and Rob Ford team up to try to make the Raptors cool again

(Image: @TOMayorFord)

Today in weird match-ups: at a Toronto Raptors press conference this morning, Drake and Rob Ford together announced that the team will host the 2016 All-Star Game. Drake—who, along with being Toronto’s biggest booster, is an avid Raptors fan—was also named the Raptors’ new “global ambassador,” an as-yet-undefined position that could encompass anything from wearing more team gear to persuading his NBA buddies to sign with Toronto (Ford did not receive a similar basketball ambassadorship). Drake will also have a say on the Raptors’ new colours, which are changing from the current white-and-red scheme for the 2015–16 season. The franchise is hoping the All-Star Game, Drake’s golden touch and a new look will give a much-needed boost to its cool factor. We humbly submit that they might want to add one more to-do to that list: win some games. [Toronto Star]

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Toronto according to Drake: in which we assess the hip-hop star’s hometown obsession

Toronto according to Drake

Drake likes Toronto. A lot. He raps about it. Talks about it. Etches its landmarks into his flesh. That’s mostly a good thing: it means hip-hop fans from Texas to Tokyo know where Forest Hill is or that Sotto Sotto dishes up a decent pasta. But if Drake is our chief cultural ambassador, we think he should be a tad more discerning about which people, places and things he trumpets to the world.

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Real Estate

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Real Estate Cheat Sheet: the New York Times eyes Toronto’s towers; Drake lists his Yorkville condo

(Image: Drake)

The top stories in Toronto real estate this week: what rising interest rates could mean for the housing market; how the New York Times unleashed a new round of condo-based hand-wringing; and why buyers keep on buying.

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Real Estate

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UPDATED: See inside Drake’s Yorkville condo, which he just sold for $3.75 million

(Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment)

Toronto rapper Drake has put his Yorkville digs up for sale, which means plush bedroom ceilings, patriotic bookcases and the afterglow of a global entertainer can all be yours for a cool $4.2 million. (Actually, the place is more understated than we’d expect from someone who’s clearly well-versed in rap star clichés.) This isn’t Drake’s first foray into the real estate market: he sold a pair of Miami condos for a $500,000 profit last March, then purchased a sprawling California mansion for $7.7 million later that year. Apparently, he’s not interested in new friends, but new homes are a different story. [h/t BuzzBuzzHome]

UPDATE: After lowering the price to $3.895 million, the Degrassi alum sold his condo for $3.75 million on October 21. There’s been no word on whether Drake’s looking for a new Toronto pad—but, given his new gig with the Raptors and his hometown love affair, it seems likely he’ll need one. [BuzzBuzzHome]

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Culture

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Current Obsession: Drake’s new Toronto-tastic video for “Started From the Bottom”

Drake was a busy guy last night. While he was attending the Grammy’s—where he picked up the Best Rap Album award for Take Care and pretended he was too cool to dance to the Bob Marley tribute—his label officially released “Started From the Bottom,” the lead single from him upcoming album Nothing Was the Same.

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Features

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Editor’s Letter (January 2013): why Toronto is suddenly such a hotbed of creative talent

Sarah FulfordOver the past year or so, a particular breed of talented Torontonians made it big. Sheila Heti’s quirky semi-autobiographical novel How Should a Person Be?, about a bunch of Toronto artists struggling to live life authentically, became an influential bestseller, endorsed by Girls creator Lena Dunham. The music world gushed over the moody R&B artist The Weeknd, otherwise known as Abel Tesfaye, a 22-year-old of Ethiopian descent from Scarborough, who was discovered in 2011 by his pal Drake and is now filling stadiums all over
North America.

The music journalist John Norris called Tesfaye the best musical talent since Michael Jackson. And the filmmaker Sarah Polley recently released two movies: Take This Waltz, a much-admired romantic comedy set in Toronto, and Stories We Tell, a riveting, critically acclaimed documentary about her complicated
family history.

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Features

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50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos

50 Most Influential

The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.

What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012.

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