Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and his ex-wife, Gisele Bundchen, are among the high-profile defendants in a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday against crumbling cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The suit is the latest action against FTX, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week and is under federal scrutiny over whether it used customers’ money to pay Alameda Research, a trading firm owned by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Consumer damages in FTX’s collapse likely exceed $10 billion.
Brady and Bundchen are involved in the suit because they were in the company’s ad campaign last year. In one commercial, titled “Tom Brady is In. Are you?” they call various people asking them to join the platform. In another, Brady checks his phone during a round of golf and mentions the possibility of a trade, setting off speculation he could be headed to another team. Instead, he was talking about crypto.
Both took roles as FTX ambassadors last year and got equity stakes in FTX Trading, according to the complaint. Brady has since deleted multiple tweets involving the exchange.
Brady’s agent, Donald Yee, declined to comment due to pending litigation.
The suit said FTX needed big names like Brady “to continue funneling investors into the FTX Ponzi scheme, and to promote and substantially assist in the sale of the (accounts), which are unregistered securities.” It also said their “misrepresentations and omissions” make them liable after FTX’s downfall.
“Plaintiffs and consumers in the (suit) have been aggrieved by Defendants’ unfair and deceptive practices and acts of false advertising by paying into the Ponzi scheme that was the Deceptive FTX Platform and in the amount of their lost investments,” the suit said.
In addition to Brady, Bundchen and Bankman-Fried, celebrities named as defendants include Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani and the Golden State Warriors.
Though their partnerships with FTX were not a secret, the suit said they “have never disclosed the nature, scope, and amount of compensation they personally received in exchange for the promotion of the Deceptive FTX Platform: and didn’t perform “any due diligence prior to marketing these FTX products to the public.”
This isn’t the first time celebrities have been under scrutiny for cryptocurrency ads. In 2018, boxer Floyd Mayweather and musician/producer DJ Khaled were fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission for “failing to disclose payments they received for promoting investments” as currencies launched.
The suit was filed in Miami’s Southern District of Florida by a group that includes David Boies — who represented Al Gore in the famous Bush v. Gore case — and Adam Moskowitz.
“FTX were geniuses at public relations and marketing,” Moskowitz said in a statement, “and knew that such a massive Ponzi scheme larger than the Madoff scheme, could only be successful with the help and promotion of the most famous, respected, and beloved celebrities and influencers in the world.”
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Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.