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Amidst the growing fallout and pending lawsuits regarding anyone tied to the collapse of FTX, one person wants you to know that he had nothing to do with it. That person is Shaquille O’ Neal.
The NBA Hall of Famer told CNBC that he was “just a paid spokesperson for a commercial,” regarding his involvement with the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange.
SHAQ IS ONE OF A LIST OF CELEBRITIES NAMED IN THE LAWSUIT
O’Neal has been named in a class-action lawsuit. It alleges that FTX spokespeople “either controlled, promoted, assisted in and actively participated in FTX Trading and FTX US transactions.”
The lawsuit has been getting a lot of attention as other well known stars like Tom Brady, Steph Curry, David Ortiz and comedian Larry David were also named.
In an interview last year, Shaq told CNBC “I don’t understand crypto.” However, he then appeared in various cryptocurrency commercials. Shaq even changed his Twitter handle to “Shaq.ETH” and “Shaq.SOL” both references to crypto.
As any prosecutor will tell you – ignorance of the law isn’t always a reliable defense. “I didn’t know,” doesn’t mean that one still can’t be held accountable for their actions.
LAWSUIT CLAIMS CELEBRIITES DELIBERATELY MISLED INVESTORS
O’Neal appeared in a June FTX commercial in which he said, “I’m excited to be partnering with FTX to help make crypto accessible to everyone… I’m all in. Are you?” He also told viewers that he checks his FTX account “daily.”
Now, Shaq is saying that he was “just a paid spokesperson,” for the commercial and that he “doesn’t understand it, so I will probably stay away from [crypto].”
But is it too little too late for that defense now with lawsuits already being filed?
It’s unclear how much Shaq was paid as part of his endorsement deal.
“Shark Tank” entrepreneur and investor Kevin O’ Leary, who was named in the same suit told CNBC that he himself was paid $15 million and lost it all.
This past week he testified on Capitol Hill in front of the Senate Banking Committee. “We need to get to the bottom of what happened at FTX, but we can’t let its collapse cause us to abandon the great promise and potential of crypto,” said O’ Leary.
FTX FOUNDER SAM BANKMAN-FRIED WAS ARRESTED THIS WEEK
One of the lead plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit is Sunil Kavuri. He claims that he relied on the paid endorsement from Shaq and the other celebrities when he purchased the crypto assets. He alleges that he was duped by their “misrepresentations” and “omissions.”
Personally, If some of the top economists don’t understand how crypto, bitcoin, exchanges and the other cryptocurrency buzzwords work, I highly doubt Shaq is an expert. He’s a fun guy and I’d love to party with him. But I’m not running to any of my friends telling them to be a part of FTX because SHAQ of all people says it’s okay.
The FTX bankruptcy has rattled the financial and political world. Users of the service lost billions of dollars after its’ collapse. Its’ founder Sam Bankman-Fried was recently arrested on fraud and money laundering charges.