Taylor Swift nearly finalized a sponsorship deal worth over $100 million with FTX, the massive crypto exchange that just imploded into bankruptcy, The Financial Times reports.
Embattled FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried – recently seen insisting he “never tried to defraud anyone” during a live video interview from the Bahamas – is said to have was one of the driving forces behind the eventual partnership. As one FTX employee put it, he’s “a Tay Tay fan.”
Talks with Swift reportedly began last fall and ended in the spring. While one person said Swift “won’t and won’t accept an endorsement deal” with FTX, some smaller-scale partnerships have also been on offer. One was even tied to his “Eras Tour”, which reportedly involved a ticketing deal involving non-fungible tokens.
In addition to saving herself the heartache of being associated with a company that has lost at least $1 billion in client funds and is now facing multiple civil lawsuits, as well as a storm of regulatory investigations, Swift probably dodged the biggest bullet here. The on-sale event for the “Eras Tour” was already a huge debacle – imagine if NFTs had been involved.
Bankman-Fried wasn’t the only high-ranking Swiftie at FTX, either: Claire Watanabe, another executive, was also pushing for the pop star’s sponsorship. Indeed, such a deal would have been in line with FTX’s broader marketing campaign, which relied heavily on celebrity endorsements and “brand ambassadors.”
Larry David starred in a Super Bowl commercial for FTX earlier this year, while athletes like Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Shaquille O’Neal also had deals with the company. After the exchange collapsed, many of these people were named as defendants in a class action lawsuit alleging they should be held guilty of promoting the failing crypto system.
Despite Bankman-Fried and Watanabe’s enthusiasm, others at FTX — including members of the marketing team — doubted the cost and effectiveness of partnering with Swift. There were doubts that Swift’s massive reach would even extend to FTX’s genuine crypto trader clientele and crypto-curious (many felt it “wouldn’t add value to our base of customers”). ‘users’, as one person put it). Meanwhile, the price of the deal would have been astronomical.
“No one really liked the deal. It was too expensive from the start,” one person said, comparing the cost to “football shirt level prices”.