Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried lost his entire $16 billion fortune in just a few days after his crypto company filed chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, but he’s not the only high-profile investor who may lose money amid FTX’s downturn.
As interest in crypto and crypto exchanges exploded in recent years, more high profile individuals like professional athletes and other entertainment personalities joined financial institutions by investing in FTX.
One of those athletes is Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
Just a few months after winning his seventh Super Bowl in 2021, Brady and his then-wife Gisele Bündchen were each given an equity stake in FTX, in addition to receiving some crypto. Brady served as an ambassador for the company and Bündchen was FTX’s Environmental & Social Initiatives Advisor. The two also starred in several TV commercials for FTX. FTX has since deleted all of its video content from its YouTube channel, including its commercial with Brady.
“It’s an incredibly exciting time in the crypto-world and Sam and the revolutionary FTX team continue to open my eyes to the endless possibilities,” Brady said in 2021. “This particular opportunity showed us the importance of educating people about the power of crypto while simultaneously giving back to our communities and planet. We have the chance to create something really special here, and I can’t wait to see what we’re able to do together.”
According to reporting from the New York Post and Forbes that analyzed court documents, Brady owned 1.1 million shares of FTX valued at roughly $45 million, while Bündchen owned 686,000 shares valued at about $25 million.
FTX raised capital at a $32 billion valuation a few months after the announcement of Brady and Bündchen’s respective deals.
It’s unclear if Brady and Bündchen will be paid anything for their shares, but it seems unlikely. As the SEC points out, when it comes to bankruptcy, stockholders “are last in line to be repaid if the company fails.”
Brady, 45, might have played in his final NFL game on Jan. 16, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs, leading to speculation that he has played his last game and will begin his $375 million TV broadcasting career.
Steph Curry of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors was also made a global ambassador for FTX, and given an equity stake in the company in 2021.
“At the end of the day, we’re not going to be able to recover all the losses here,” the company’s new CEO, John Ray, told Congress about FTX’s bankruptcy.
Representatives for Curry, Brady, Bündchen and FTX did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment on this story.
Additionally, Major League Baseball had a marketing deal with FTX where umpires wear an FTX logo on their shirts during games, and the NBA’s Miami Heat renamed their home stadium “FTX Arena” back in 2021. Unlike announcements for the athletes listed above, the news releases for the MLB and Heat did not include mention of an equity stake in FTX.
A federal bankruptcy judge terminated the naming rights deal between Miami-Dade County and FTX in January.
FTX paused withdrawals earlier last November amid a multibillion liquidity crunch. At one point, rival crypto exchange Binance was interested in a takeover of FTX, but decided against the move and called FTX’s financial problems “beyond our control or ability to help.”
“There’s celebrity CEOs in this space as well as celebrity crypto entrepreneurs,” SEC chairman Gary Gensler said on CNBC after news broke of FTX’s liquidity issues but prior to the bankruptcy announcement. “The public can fall prey to their promotions, their marketing and the like.”
In a viral Twitter thread, Bankman-Fried apologized for FTX’s situation. “I’m really sorry, again, that we ended up here,” he said. “Hopefully things can find a way to recover.”
price is down over 60% over the past year, and the price for ether
is also down more than 60% over that period. The total market cap for all crypto nearly hit $3 trillion during 2021 before retreating to a current aggregate market cap of around $800 billion.