Since the FTX collapse, the damages from the fall of one of the most influential crypto exchanges in the world are spilling out to everyone who had even a slight connection with the company.
Other rival exchanges also suffered significant losses, with some like BlockFi also having no option but to file for bankruptcy themselves.
In fact, the outreach of the destruction caused by Sam Bankman-Fried’s mishandling of FTX is reaching even the celebrities who were paid to promote the exchange.
Celebrities like Tom Brady, Giselle Bündchen, Larry David, and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal found themselves involved in a class-action lawsuit for promoting a “Ponzi scheme”. According to the filing, “Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest.”
Since the fallout, the celebrities involved in the promotion of the exchange are doing everything they can to distance themselves from the company. NFL star Tom Brady deleted a series of tweets in which he praised SBF and his exchange, while the NBA team Miami Heat removed the naming rights for the arena which was recently marketed as “FTX Arena”.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Involvement With Crypto
The 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist and 4-time national champion Shaquille O’Neal is one of the biggest celebrities listed in the lawsuit against FTX.
Shaq’s involvement with cryptocurrency raised some eyebrows when he became an ambassador for FTX.
That’s because, no more than a couple of months before it, O’Neal stated in a CNBA interview that he didn’t understand anything about the crypto world.
“I don’t understand it, so I will probably stay away from it until I get a full understanding of what it is,” he said, to CNBC: “From my experience, it is too good to be true.”
However, after becoming an FTX ambassador, Shaq came to the point of changing his Twitter handle to names like “Shaq.ETH” alluding to Ethereum, and Shaq.SOL, in a reference to Solana.
During his appearance in FTX commercials, Shaq constantly repeated the catchphrase “I’m all in, are you?” Which in retrospect, is not a good look.
Shaq Defends Himself, Claims He Was Only a “Paid Spokesperson”
Recently, O’Neal talked about his involvement as an FTX ambassador.
The former NBA champion claimed his promotion of the cryptocurrency exchange was just a paid job, and that he only served as a spokesperson for the exchange.
“People know I’m very, very honest,” O’Neal says. “I have nothing to hide. If I was heavily involved, I would be at the forefront saying, ‘Hey.’ But I was just a paid spokesperson.”
It is unclear how much Shaq was paid for promoting FTX. However, taking indication from Shark Tank’s star Kevin O’Leary’s $15 million payout, those numbers are likely to be close.
All in all, it is hard to believe that those celebrities will be held accountable for simply promoting a company that, to everyone’s knowledge at the time, had no indication of committing fraud.
The involvement of these high-profile celebrities is likely just a way for the lawsuit to gain notoriety among the public before going to trial. None of these celebrities had any responsibility regarding handling the company’s assets, so in all likelihood, Shaq and his fellow celebs will be exonerated from the suit.