Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in high-profile marketing and sponsorship deals to celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal, Naomi Osaka, and David Ortiz, among others, according to court documents in its ongoing bankruptcy procedures.
In a court filing submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware by FTX’s current management, the company disclosed a detailed list of celebrities, businesses, and sports teams that received payments over the years as part of its marketing blitz.
The company acknowledged that the list itself "may not reflect an exhaustive list of all deposits and repayments," but said that it is working to identify all outstanding payments made in prior years to see how much of this can be clawed back to cover its debts.
The list includes payments made to many celebrities featured prominently as FTX promoters before it collapsed.
According to the filing, FTX paid close to $750,000 to former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, about $308,000 to tennis star Naomi Osaka, almost $206,000 to Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and about $271,000 to former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz.
Some of these celebrities were already subject to lawsuits by FTX creditors over their promotion of the company, which ultimately imploded last November. O’Neal and Osaka were both included in a class-action lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court in May that accuses them of illegally promoting interest-bearing accounts that were actually unregistered securities.
For years, FTX and its now-disgraced founder Sam Bankman-Fried put a lot of effort into glitzy promotions that featured the rich and powerful.
SBF frequently hosted guests at his home in The Bahamas like NFL quarterback Tom Brady, former President Bill Clinton, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The company went so far as to purchase the naming rights for the Miami Heats’ Stadium, and spent over $6 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad in February.
The current FTX team is exploring its options for clawing back the funds doled out to promoters over the years as one way to pay back its substantial debts. However, it acknowledged that the final amount recovered "may vary materially from the amounts reported" in the filing.