Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried lost his entire $16 billion fortune in a matter of days after his company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, but he isn’t the only high-profile investor who could lose money as a result of FTX’s downturn.
As interest in cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency exchanges has grown in recent years, more high-profile individuals, such as professional athletes and other entertainment figures, have joined financial institutions in investing in FTX.
Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is one of those athletes.
Only a few months after winning his seventh Super Bowl in 2021, Brady and his then-wife Gisele Bündchen were each given an equity stake in FTX, as well as some cryptocurrency. Brady was a company ambassador, and Bündchen was FTX’s Environmental & Social Initiatives Advisor. They also appeared in several FTX television commercials.
In 2021, Brady stated, “It’s an incredibly exciting time in the crypto-world, and Sam and the revolutionary FTX team continue to open my eyes to the endless possibilities.” “This particular opportunity demonstrated the importance of educating people about the power of cryptocurrency while also giving back to our communities and the planet.” We have the opportunity to create something truly unique here, and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.”
It’s unclear how much equity Brady and Bündchen received in 2021, but FTX raised capital a few months after the deal was announced at a $32 billion valuation.
Steph Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors was named a global ambassador for FTX and was also given an equity stake in the company in 2021.
It’s unclear what will happen to the money investors put into FTX, but the bankruptcy filing could wipe out their equity.
Other notable investors in FTX included Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Shohei Ohtani of the MLB, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and Sharktank’s Kevin O’Leary. Furthermore, Major League Baseball has a marketing agreement with FTX in which umpires wear an FTX logo on their shirts during games, and the Miami Heat’s home stadium was renamed “FTX Arena” in 2021. Unlike the announcements for the athletes listed above, the MLB and Heat press releases made no mention of an equity stake in FTX.
Third Point Ventures, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, SoftBank, and BlackRock are among the financial firms that have backed FTX, according to a list compiled by the New York Times.
Withdrawals were halted earlier this week due to a multibillion-dollar liquidity crunch. At one point, rival crypto exchange Binance was interested in acquiring FTX, but decided against it, citing FTX’s financial problems as “beyond our control or influence.”
“There are celebrity CEOs as well as celebrity crypto entrepreneurs in this space,” SEC chairman Gary Gensler said on CNBC this week, after news of FTX’s liquidity issues broke but before the bankruptcy announcement. “The general public is susceptible to their promotions, marketing, and the like.”
Bankman-Fried apologized for FTX’s recent situation in a viral Twitter thread last week. “I’m really sorry we ended up here,” he said again. “Hopefully, things will be able to recover.”
This week, bitcoin prices briefly fell to their lowest level in two years, and the price of ether has fallen 73.22% in the last year.