Early this year, as the cryptocurrency company was spiraling downward and spending all the money it didn’t have, Taylor Swift came close to finalizing a sponsorship deal with FTX. As reported, the deal would have added another celebrity to the already sizable FTX endorsement fold for a reported $100 million over three years.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, is said to be a big Swift fan. Despite the high cost and the advice of his colleagues, he pushed hard for a partnership with Swift.
FTX partnership talks with Swift reportedly began in the fall of 2021 and ended in the spring of 2022, with a source telling the outlet that Swift “would not, and did not, agree to an endorsement deal.” This was about a potential tour sponsorship that never materialized.
Bankman-Fried denied the report in a message to CNBC, saying, “Partnerships were an area that was more contentious, and on the margin, I initially was in favor but eventually started pushing back on new ones.”
According to CNBC’s sources, Bankman-Fried preferred to work with people who would give him positive feedback on his ideas, while a former FTX employee told the news organization that the CEO would publicly humiliate anyone who disagreed with him.
FTX was worth $32 billion to private investors earlier this year, but it crashed spectacularly in November, stopping withdrawals everywhere. In bankruptcy filings, the company names nearly a million creditors. Ticket sales for Swift’s Eras tour, scheduled to begin in March of next year (TicketMaster fiasco notwithstanding), were proposed to be conducted in part with non-fungible tokens, a type of digital currency whose value can fluctuate.
Bankman-Fried signed a number of high-profile partnerships in the first two years after launching FTX, including a 19-year, $135 million deal for the naming rights to the arena used by the NBA’s Miami Heat. Gisele Bündchen, Tom Brady, Shaquille O’Neal, Stephen Curry, David Ortiz, and Naomi Osaka are just some athletes who have represented the company as brand ambassadors and/or been sponsored by the company. Other sponsorships include the Golden State Warriors, Major League Baseball, and Formula One.
Reports from Rolling Stone say that FTX’s marketing team had doubts that working with Swift would be suitable for the company’s clientele. No one was happy with the deal; it was overpriced from the get-go and really high.