Failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX has revealed that it paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing and sponsorship deals to high-profile celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal, Naomi Osaka, and David Ortiz. Court documents from FTX’s ongoing bankruptcy procedures disclosed a detailed list of celebrities, businesses, and sports teams that received payments for marketing. While FTX acknowledged that the list may not be exhaustive, the company is working to identify all outstanding payments made in previous years to cover its debts.
The list includes payments made to celebrities who were prominently featured as FTX promoters before the exchange collapsed. Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal received close to $750,000, tennis star Naomi Osaka received about $308,000, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence received almost $206,000, and former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz received about $271,000.
Some of these celebrities were already facing lawsuits over their promotion of FTX. O’Neal and Osaka were included in a class-action lawsuit filed in a Florida federal court in May, accusing them of illegally promoting unregistered securities in the form of interest-bearing accounts.
FTX and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried had heavily invested in glitzy promotions featuring influential figures. Bankman-Fried hosted guests like NFL quarterback Tom Brady, former President Bill Clinton, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his home in The Bahamas. FTX even purchased the naming rights for the Miami Heats’ Stadium and spent over $6 million on a 30-second Super Bowl ad.
The current FTX team is exploring options to recover the funds paid out to promoters as a means to repay its debts. However, the final amount recovered may vary significantly from the reported figures.