In an ad for crypto exchange FTX featuring Stephen Curry earlier this year, a narrator repeatedly described the NBA star as a “crypto expert.” The legendary player denies it again and again, finally say“I’m no expert, and I don’t need to be. With FTX, I have everything I need to buy, sell, and trade crypto safely.
“Safely” is now in question. This week, FTX declared bankruptcy, its CEO Sam Bankman-Fried resigned, and many investors who trusted the platform are wondering if they will ever get their money back.
A slew of other top athletes have also appeared in commercials for FTX, including NFL star Tom Brady, who was stake given in FTX and became a corporate ambassador in a long-term partnership. The company even bought the arena naming rights from the Miami Heat.
But it’s not just the FTX mayhem that’s affecting major sports stars. Elon Musk’s tumultuous takeover Twitter has also had an impact, with major figures like LeBron James being trolled by users pretending to be them thanks to a new, easily abused authentication feature. The turbulence shows that star athletes are not immune to the confusion and upheaval rocking the tech industry.
This week, a tweet appearing to be from James, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, announced, “I officially request a trade. Thank you #LakersNation for all the support over the years. To bigger and better things!
The November 9 tweet appeared authentic because of a blue checkmark next to the name “LeBron James” on the @KINGJamez Twitter account. His real account is @KingJames.
Another fake account has led baseball fans to believe that MLB pitcher Aroldis Chapman has re-signed with the New York Yankees, when in fact he remains a free agent.
The confusion came from Twitter Blue, an $8 monthly subscription service introduced under Musk, which comes with a blue check that previously meant accounts were legit. Shortly after its launch, fake accounts have flooded Twitter. Not only athletes, but also politicians and companies including Eli Lilly and were quickly imitated by trolls.
On Friday, the Twitter Blue option appeared to be unavailable, and Twitter said it was working to address impersonation issues.
But it wasn’t the first time the $44 billion takeover of Twitter by self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” Musk has turned heads in the sports world. In response to a nearly 500% increase in racial slurs immediately after Musk took over, james tweeted“I don’t know Elon Musk and, frankly, I don’t care who owns Twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because it is scary. So many unfit people say hate speech is free speech.
Musk replied to James with on October 30 by sharing a Twitter employee’s tweet that “almost all of these accounts are inauthentic” and the company was working to ban users “involved in this trolling campaign.” Ironically, James then impersonated the following week through the misuse of Twitter Blue.
As for FTX, it spent hundreds of millions of dollars on sports marketing as it headed for a sudden and surprising meltdown this week, including $135 million for the naming rights to the Miami Heat arena. Miami-Dade Team and County cut ties with FTX Friday and are looking for a new naming rights partner.
Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers cited the stadium deal as comparing the collapse of FTX to the Enron scandal: “Not just a financial error, but – certainly from the reports – whiffs of fraud. The stadium appellations very early in the history of a company. Vast explosion of wealth of which no one really understands where it comes from come.
FTX has also become the official crypto exchange of MLB and has signed endorsement deals with NFL quarterback Trevor Lawrence, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and MLB pitcher Shohei Ohtani.
“First of all, you need to understand cryptography,” he said. “There’s speculation, that’s all the noise. Then there are things that happened with [crypto lender] Traveling and with FTX now is someone running a business that is just plain stupid and greedy. So what does Sam Bankman do? He just, give me more, give me more, give me more, so I’m gonna borrow some money, lend it to my affiliate, and hope and pretend that the FTT tokens that’s out there on my balance sheet will retain their value. »
Cuban himself was criticized earlier this year-and faces a lawsuit— for partnering with now bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital, giving Mavericks fans a $100 reward to trade crypto on Voyager if they deposited $100 and traded $10.
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