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Known for its numerous high-profile partnership agreements with celebrities and sports stars, the now-bankrupt crypto exchange FTX reached the late stages of negotiating a sponsorship deal worth more than $100 million with Taylor Swift.
According to a Financial Times report citing people familiar with the matter, the abortive deal reportedly revolved around a potential tour sponsorship and included a ticketing arrangement with digital certificates in the form of non-fungible tokens ( ).
One former FTX employee reportedly said that the exchange had sought a “light degree of endorsement” from Swift on social media—though Swift herself, according to a person close to the discussions, never contemplated agreeing to endorse the exchange.
Aside from sponsorship arrangements with individual celebrities, FTX also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on high-profile advertising campaigns, signing deals with the NBA's Miami Heat and Golden State Warrior, Major League Baseball, the NHL’s Washington Wizards and Capitals, as well as esports giant TSM.
FTX senior execs opposed the deal
Discussions, which began in autumn 2021, collapsed this spring, though—presumably much to the relief of FTX’s more experienced senior executives who clashed with Bankman-Fried and his inner circle as the latter favored the deal.
“No one really liked the deal. It was too expensive from the beginning,” one person familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.
According to them, the deal’s price tag was “very high . . . really fucking high. That’s front of the soccer jersey level prices.”
Those opposing the deal reportedly included several members of the FTX marketing team, as well as FTX.US president Brett Harrison and FTX.US general counsel Ryne Miller, formerly a Sullivan & Cromwell partner, both of whom urged Bankman-Fried to ditch the talks.
Other people also reportedly doubted that Swift, who recently became the first female artist in history to spend 60 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, would add value to the FTX user base.
Bankman-Fried, who stepped down as FTX CEO on the same day as the exchange and its affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy, is being investigated by the SEC and DOJ. He has not been charged.
Once worth $26 billion, Bankman-Fried recently said in an interview that he only had $100,000 of his fortune left.