Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David and sports legends like Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry were among the “brand ambassadors” named as defendants in a class action lawsuit aimed at fallen cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Giselle Bündchen, Naomi Osaki, Anaheim Angels star Shohei Ohtani, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, and the entire Golden State Warriors franchise — since the team put the FTX logo on their basketball court — were also among those listed on the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida.
Last week, FTX — the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange — and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried revealed it lost approximately $11 billion of its customers holdings and had to seek bankruptcy protection.
The Bahamas-based company was founded in 2019. Just two years later, FTX emerged as one of the leading crypto exchanges, thanks in part to a massive promotional push that included a Super Bowl ad starring Larry David where the Curb star questioned the inventiveness of cryptocurrency. (“We need to meet people where they are — and that means embracing skepticism,” Bankman-Fried said of the commercial in a now-ironic statement. “A lot of people who are now the biggest advocates of crypto once had significant reservations.”)
Prior to their impending divorce, Brady (an FTX investor) and Bündchen appeared together in an ad that championed FTX as the “safest and easiest way to buy crypto,” while all the other athletes and celebrities in the class action lawsuit also promoted the exchange in some capacity, giving FTX an aura of credibility.
“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the class action lawsuit said (via The Associated Press).
“The Deceptive FTX Platform maintained by the FTX Entities was truly a house of cards, where the FTX Entities shuffled customer funds between their opaque affiliated entities, using new investor funds obtained through investments in the [yield-bearing accounts] and loans to pay interest to the old ones and to attempt to maintain the appearance of liquidity.”
In addition to the class action lawsuit, Bankman-Fried and FTX is being investigated by both state and federal investigators as well as Bahamian authorities.