Shaq becomes latest celebrity to distance himself from FTX, crypto
Shaquille O'Neal said he was just a paid spokesperson and had nothing to do with mismanagement of users' funds.
Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal is the latest celebrity influencer to turn his back on disgraced crypto exchange FTX.
In June, FTX tweeted details of an endorsement with O’Neal, referring to the four-time NBA Championship winner as Shaqtoshi. The accompanying advert depicted O’Neal wearing a Sam Bankman-Fried wig and talking about being an everyday guy with an FTX account.
As part of its marketing policy, FTX enlisted many celebrities and crypto influencers, including Anthony Pompliano, Kevin O’Leary, Larry David, Tom Brady, and Steph Curry.
However, those associated with the bankrupt exchange, O’Neal included, now seek to distance themselves from the ordeal.
FTX collapse was a disaster for the industry
On Nov. 11, the FTX group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following a run that depleted company reserves. Days before the filing, former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried denied rumors of insolvency.
Before that, FTX had garnered a reputation for progressive altruism, strengthened by its high-profile celebrity endorsements.
However, bankruptcy filings revealed poor corporate controls and questionable practices from the outgoing team, including allegations of comingling users’ funds and inappropriate intercompany transfers.
The proposed Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act, brought by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Roger Marshall, called for a harsh response, including broadening the definition of money service businesses to widen the capture of KYC and identifying “self-hosted wallets.”
Shaq on damage control
O’Neal was named in a class-action lawsuit filed against FTX for his role in promoting the company. He told CNBC that he had no knowledge of what was happening at the company. Instead, he was “just a paid spokesperson.”
“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.”
In a further attempt to distance himself, O’Neal told the news outlet that he does not believe in crypto and never did.
The former NBA pro admitted getting bombarded with crypto endorsement pitches. However, he said he was always cautious as he did not fully understand the technology.
O’Neal did not reveal how much FTX paid him.