Every time you turn around, it looks like another celebrity is selling cryptocurrency or NFTs. Influencer Kim Kardashian, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and former NBA athlete Paul Pierce have all promoted Ethereum Max; Matt Damon has starred in commercials for Crypto.com, where he exclaims, “Fortune smiles on the brave”; Gwyneth Paltrow, Mindy Kaling and Lilly Singh invested in TeraWulf, a cryptocurrency mining company; and the Paltrow website goop published “guides” to crypto, such as the one titled “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Basics – and How to Invest”. Additionally, Reese Witherspoon has tweeted his support for Metaverse, crypto and NFTs, stating: “In the (near) future, every person will have a parallel digital identity. Avatars, crypto wallets, digital assets will be the norm. Do you foresee this?” DJ Khaled, Atlanta-based rapper TI, and Elon Musk, along with Tom Brady, Larry David, Charli D’Amelio, Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton, LeBron James, and Ashton Kutcher are other celebrities supporting crypto.
So we have celebrities jumping on the latest bandwagon and shilling for business. What’s new? business affairs highlights why celebrity endorsements for crypto are particularly dangerous:
So what is the problem? Endorsing a potentially volatile financial product is not exactly the same as selling sneakers or breakfast cereal. Famous faces may risk being unwittingly associated with a scam or even becoming the target of the ire of those who view crypto as a bubble at best and a Ponzi scheme at worst.
There is, thankfully, a group of anti-crypto-brethren some have called “non-coin mongers” who are highly critical of cryptocurrency – its volatility, speculative nature, and dire environmental consequences. The New York Times recently published an article highlighting one of the most famous critics, actor Ben McKenzie, who is best known for his role as Ryan Atwood on the hit show “The OC” from the early 2000s.
After a negative experience with crypto during the pandemic, Ben began to learn all he could about crypto and determined that “the crypto market seemed built for fraud.” Last October he co-wrote an article with Jacob Silverman (they are also writing a book on crypto and fraud) for Slatewhere they state:
The Hollywoodization of crypto is a moral disaster. And for celebrity fans, who probably have a lot less money to spare, it’s also potentially financial. These rich and famous entertainers might just as easily be applying for payday loans or sitting their audiences at a rigged blackjack table. While the wild swings in crypto can be exciting for some, the rewards for many are illusory, especially once you get past the few major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum (which is a separate entity from Ethereum Max). .
Kudos to McKenzie for swimming against this tide of Hollywood crypto peddlers — his voice is much needed, and I hope it continues to be amplified.