Earlier this year, Stephen Curry was featured in an ad for the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. The narrator kept saying that Curry was a “crypto expert.” The legendary player keeps denying this. Finally saying, “I’m not an expert, and I don’t need to be. With FTX I have everything I need to buy, sell, and trade crypto safely.”
Now, “safely” is in dispute. This week, FTX announced bankruptcy, its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried resigned, and many investors who relied on the platform are unsure if they would ever receive their funds.
Tom Brady, who was given an equity position in FTX and made an ambassador for the brand as part of a long-term agreement, was among a number of other elite athletes who appeared in FTX advertisements. The corporation even purchased the naming rights for the home arena of the Miami Heat.
Not only does the FTX chaos affect prominent athletes, however. The turbulent takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has also resulted in big figures like LeBron James being ridiculed by users posing as them, thanks to a new, easily exploitable authentication mechanism. Star sportsmen are not immune to the volatility and upheaval plaguing the tech world, as demonstrated by the upheaval.
This week, a tweet appearing to be from James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, announced, “I am officially requesting a trade. Thank you #LakersNation for all the support through the years. Onto bigger and better things!”
The November 9 tweet appeared authentic because of a blue checkmark next to “LeBron James” on the @kingjamez Twitter account. His real Twitter account is @kingjames.
Another fake account misled baseball fans into believing that MLB pitcher Aroldis Chapman had re-signed with the New York Yankees, although he is still a free agent.
The confusion was caused by Twitter Blue, a $8-per-month premium service created by Musk that includes a blue check that previously indicated valid accounts. Twitter was inundated with fake accounts soon after its inception. Trolls swiftly impersonated not only athletes but also politicians and businesses, including Eli Lilly.
On Friday, Twitter Blue appeared to be inaccessible, and the company stated it was trying to address impersonation issues.
The $44 billion acquisition of Twitter by Musk, a self-described “free-speech absolutist,” made headlines in the sports world before. In response to a nearly 500% increase in the use of a racial slur immediately after Musk assumed control, the company implemented a new policy, James tweeted, “I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
Musk replied to James by on Oct. 30 by sharing a Twitter employee’s tweet that “nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic” and the company was working to ban users “involved in this trolling campaign.” The following week, James was ironically impersonated due to the misuse of Twitter Blue.
FTX is a sports marketing powerhouse
As FTX headed towards a rapid and unexpected collapse this week, it spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sports marketing, including $135 million for the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena. On Friday, the team and Miami-Dade County severed ties with FTX and are searching for a new naming rights partner.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers compared FTX’s failure to the Enron scandal, citing the stadium contract : “Not just financial error but—certainly from the reports—whiffs of fraud. Stadium namings very early in a company’s history. Vast explosion of wealth that nobody quite understands where it comes from.”
FTX has struck sponsorship partnerships with NFL quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, and MLB pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
Friday at a conference held by Sports Business Journal in Washington, D.C., he stated: “First, you’ve got to understand crypto,” he said. “There’s speculation—that’s all the noise. Then there’s things that have happened with [crypto lender] Voyager and with FTX now—that’s somebody running a company that’s just dumb as f*** greedy. So, what does Sam Bankman do? He just, give me more, give me more, give me more, so I’m gonna borrow money, loan it to my affiliated company, and hope and pretend to myself that the FTT tokens that are in there on my balance sheet are gonna sustain their value.”
Cuban was criticized earlier this year, and he is now being sued, for teaming up with the now-defunct crypto lender Voyager Digital to offer Mavericks fans a $100 bonus to trade crypto on Voyager if they put in $100 and traded $10.