The crash of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange, could legally impact some of its high-profile endorsers including Tom Brady and his ex-wife Gisele Bundchen.
Lawyers who represent an investor of the crypto giant filed a class action lawsuit in a Florida federal court this week. Days before, FTX filed for bankruptcy, sending the crypto market into chaos, with reports suggesting the company lost $11 billion.
The class action lawsuit not only blamed FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, but the “brand ambassadors” including Tom Brady and his now ex-wife. Plus, the suit named other celebrities from the acting and sports worlds, including Steph Curry, Larry David and Shaquille O’Neal.
FTX had a big-time connection with sports as it sought to market the exchange to fans.
Back in June 2021, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen got an equity stake in FTX. As then husband and wife, they appeared in commercials for the company, teasing that Brady had another 10 years left in the NFL. Steph Curry signed a similar equity deal and did a commercial for the exchange. FTX also had reached an agreement with the Golden State Warriors for some inside-the-arena placements.
And if you watched this year’s Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, you no doubt saw the Larry David FTX commercials. The commercials showed David throughout history downplaying some of the world’s greatest inventions, like the wheel and electricity. Coincidentally, FTX also hired David to dismiss their exchange, but as a joke. David ends the commercial by saying, “Ehhh, I don’t think so. And I’m never wrong about this stuff — never.” Now, David is alongside Tom Brady in the FTX legal mess.
But there were far more sports endorsers. Major League Baseball named FTX as the league’s official cryptocurrency exchange. The game umpires even wore an FTX label on their uniforms. Meanwhile, the California Golden Bears embraced FTX. The crypto exchange and the Cal athletic department signed a $17.5 million, 10-year naming rights deal.
The NBA’s Miami Heat probably was most wrapped up with FTX. The team has terminated its long-term naming rights deal for the Heat’s home arena. FTX had signed a $135 million deal for the naming rights. The city of Miami also became the official U.S. home for the crypto exchange.
The lawsuit filed said FTX used Tom Brady and other celebrities to attract investors to a “Ponzi scheme.” Other celebrities named in the suit included Udonis Haslem, David Ortiz, Trevor Lawrence, Shohei Ohtani, Naomi Osaka and Kevin O’Leary.
According to the lawsuit, FTX honcho Sam Bankman-Fried created a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme “designed to take advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country.”