FTX’s embattled founder Sam Bankman-Fried — recently seen insisting he “did not ever try to commit fraud on anyone” during a live video interview from the Bahamas — was reportedly a driving force behind the possible partnership. As one FTX employee put it, he’s “a fan of Tay Tay.”
The talks with Swift reportedly began last fall and ended in the spring. While one person said that Swift “would not, and did not, agree to an endorsement deal” with FTX, some smaller-scale partnerships were also proposed. One was even tied to her “Eras Tour,” which would’ve reportedly involved a ticketing deal involving non-fungible tokens.
Aside from saving herself from the grief of being associated with a company that lost at least $1 billion in customer funds and is now facing several civil lawsuits, plus a storm of regulatory investigations, Swift probably dodged the biggest bullet here. The on-sale event for the “Eras Tour” was already a massive debacle — just imagine if NFTs had been involved.
Bankman-Fried wasn’t the only high-ranking Swiftie at FTX either: Claire Watanabe, another exec, was also pushing hard to land the pop star sponsorship. Indeed, such a deal would’ve been in-line with FTX’s broader marketing push, which relied heavily on celebrity endorsements and “brand ambassadors.”
Larry David starred in a Super Bowl ad for FTX earlier this year, while athletes like Tom Brady, Steph Curry, and Shaquille O’Neal also had deals with the company. After the exchange collapsed, many of these folks were named as defendants in a class action suit alleging they should be held culpable for promoting the failed crypto scheme.
Despite the enthusiasm of Bankman-Fried and Watanabe, others at FTX — including people on the marketing team — were dubious of the cost and effectiveness of a partnership with Swift. There were doubts that Swift’s massive reach would even extend to FTX’s real customer base of crypto traders and the crypto-curious (many felt that she “would not add value to our user base,” as one person said). Meanwhile, the price of the deal was reportedly astronomical.
“No one really liked the deal. It was too expensive from the beginning,” one person said, comparing the cost to “front of the soccer jersey level prices.”