Kevin O’Leary, the millionaire investor and “Shark Tank” television personality, was reportedly paid $1 million per hour to promote the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
According to a tweet shared by Coffeezila, an on-chain investigator, the self-made millionaire allegedly received $15.7 million in compensation for providing “twenty service hours, 20 social media posts, one virtual lunch, and five autographs” to promote the Sam Bankman-Fried exchange, which collapsed in November 2022.
Kevin O’Leary Was Paid Big Millions To Promote FTX
While the exact timeline and details of the agreement remain undisclosed, what’s publicly known is that O’Leary was a paid spokesperson for FTX in Q4 2022. The exact time the millionaire started “shilling” or promoting the exchange is unclear. However, by November 2022, FTX went under, sinking with over $8 billion of customer funds.
Bitcoin (BTC) prices flash-crashed to as low as $15,800 before rebounding in subsequent sessions. The Shark Tank star reportedly invested $10 million into FTX and agreed to “shill” or promote the exchange through various social media channels actively.
Although the exchange collapsed, O’Leary said the due diligence conducted before involvement pointed to a “robust and well-managed exchange.” The TV star has since expressed the disappointment resulting from the collapse, adding that it was a “costly mistake.”
O’Leary has been criticized for failing to pick out the flaws in the offer and for promoting the exchange. Only Taylor Swift questioned the $100 million deal the exchange tabled. According to Adam Moskowitz, an attorney leading a class-action lawsuit against several FTX promoters, the singer researched the offer to check whether there was any violation of the law.
Whether O’Leary will be penalized for violating securities laws is unknown. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Bankman-Fried with defrauding investors of billions of assets while operating the exchange, FTX, from the Bahamas.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s Trial Begins
News of O’Leary receiving hefty payments in exchange for shilling FTX coincides with the first phase of Sam Bankman-Fried’s criminal trial, which began on October 3. The trial, expected to run for six weeks, will see the ex-FTX boss face seven criminal charges, including wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.
Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York allege that over $8 billion in customer funds was routed to Alameda, a trading wing associated with FTX, through direct deposits. This backdoor was fused as part of FTX’s code.
Whether the ex-FTX boss will testify is not currently known. However, some of the key witnesses, including Bankman-Fried’s former girlfriend, Caroline Ellison, and former MIT roommate, Gary Wang. Sam Bankman-Fried might spend the next 100 years in prison if found guilty.
Feature image from Canva, chart from TradingView