Since the early 2010s, fading stars and buzzworthy entertainers alike have promoted various cryptocoins. Given the hype around blockchain technologies, it’s perhaps no surprise that many celebrities have joined forces with thought leaders in the space.
The list that you’re about to read contains actors, business tycoons, politicians, movie stars, professional athletes and more– and their motivations for getting involved with crypto are as varied as their professions.
Some crypto celebrities don’t know much about cryptocurrency and simply want to remain relevant in an increasingly noisy media landscape. Others, however, seem to be well-informed and truly want to make a difference.
Keep reading for a comprehensive list of entertainers have attached their names to cryptocurrency projects.
Steve Bannon is one of the most influential figures in right wing politics in the US and Europe. Bannon famously helped Trump devise a strategy for winning the White House in 2016. Before that, Bannon co-founded the controversial right wing news network Breitbart News. Abroad, Bannon has assisted a variety of European political parties including France’s National Front, Germany’s Alternative party, the Italian Northern League and many others.
Bannon’s next big project will likely be a cryptocoin. In June of 2018, Bannon announced that he’s working on a new cryptocurrency he calls “DeplorablesCoin.” During the 2016 US presidential election, Hillary Clinton famously used the phrase “basket of deplorables” to describe Trump’s supporters.
During an interview with The New York Times, Bannon explained why he thinks cryptocurrency can disrupt the establishment.
“It’s disruptive populism. It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”
Source: Stephen Bannon Buys Into Bitcoin
Business Insider recently named footballer Lionel Messi as the third most famous athlete in the world. He recently became a brand ambassador for Sirin Labs. Sirin Labs is developing a crypto-enabled smartphone that the company markets as “the first cyber-protected, blockchain-enabled mobile phone.”
Messi confirmed that he would be promoting Sirin Labs with the following statement:
“I am usually busy trying to decentralize defences and after digging deeper into Blockchain and decentralized systems, I’m excited to join SIRIN LABS as an ambassador to make blockchain more friendly with their upcoming operating system for smartphones.”
Self-described “eccentric millionaire” and anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee has been cultivating an outlaw image for years. His personal website is filled with images of the tycoon holding various guns and blog articles with titles like “Go F*ck Yourself NSA…I’m taking the long way home.”
McAfee got involved in blockchain tech in 2016, when he shifted the focus of his MGT Capital Investments company to cryptocurrency. Now, he’s running for president in 2020 on a pro-cryptocurrency platform. He commented on his announcement in a recent tweet:
“Don’t think that I have a chance of winning. I do not. But what truly changes America is not the president, but the process of creating one.”
The Winklevoss twins
The Winklevoss twins– sometimes referred to as “the Winklevii”– became known in the sports world when they competed in the men’s pair rowing event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. They were already famous businessmen at that point, though. In 2004, the twins successfully sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their idea to create a social media network.
The twins launched their Gemini cryptocurrency exchange in 2014. Their pro-regulation, security-first approach has helped Gemini become one of the most popular crypto exchanges in the United States.
The Winklevii explained Gemini’s core values in a Reddit AMA:
“We’ve used the best practices, multi-signature technology, hardware security modules, geographically distributed vault systems we’ve spent about a year and a half building state of the art both to prevent from external hacks and internal malfeasance and any type of errors.”
William Shatner of Star Trek fame recently attached his name to Solar Alliance– a company with a plan to build a solar crypto mining farm in Illinois.
“Think of the irony of a computer building in a coal mining area offering employment.”
Multi-talented rapper and actor Donald Glover– alias Childish Gambino– was one of the first celebrities to see bitcoin’s potential. In an interview with Time from 2013, Glover suggested that bitcoin could be a superior alternative to gold.
“I know a lot of people are skeptical, but I feel like if everything’s going to live online, why not Bitcoins? Being backed by gold seems very old and nostalgic to me.”
Even though basketball star Dennis Rodman has been retired for years, he still keeps finding ways to make headlines. One of the most controversial moves Rodman made in recent years was befriending North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
In 2017, Rodman’s return visits to the hermit kingdom were funded by a cryptocurrency called PotCoin.
“The folks at PotCoin … realized the importance of this trip and made it all possible for me.”
The United Nations described rapper Akon’s first charity project Akon Lighting Africa as “the perfect case study” of how their Sustainable Energy for All initiative might succeed. The project helped the United Nations build 100,000 solar street lamps and 1,200 micro solar grids.
Akon’s follow-up African charity venture involves a new crypto he calls AKoin. The new coin will apparently enable Akon to build a new city in Senegal called “Akon Crypto City.” The city is described as a “real-life Wakanda” on the AKoin website.
When asked for further details about the new cryptocoin, Akon didn’t provide much specific information.
“I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it [technical issues] out.”
Vitalik Buterin’s ascendancy to social media superstardom is proof that more and more people are becoming interested in cryptocurrency. The Ethereum developer now ranks among the top 2000 most popular users on Twitter.
Rapper 50 Cent made history in 2014 when he let his fans use bitcoin to buy his album Animal Ambition. After the price of bitcoin spiked in late 2017, TechCrunch reported that Jackson had “accidently” made “somewhere between $7 million and $8 million.”
The following month, The Verge discovered that Jackson had never actually owned any bitcoin. Apparently, the bitcoin funds he received from album sales were immediately converted into US dollars.
Jackson said that he never corrected the TechCrunch story because he believed that it would enhance his image.
“So long as a press story is not irreparably damaging to my image or brand, I usually do not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting.”
Marijuana’s complicated legal status in the United States has made it hard for businesses that sell marijuana products to do business– but former Miss Iowa Jessica VerSteeg claims that her new cryptocoin ParagonCoin could help marijuana dispensaries solve their banking problems.
So far, VerSteeg and her associates have failed to provide much specific information about how ParagonCoin blockchain will work. This lack of clarity has caused some to wonder whether or not ParagonCoin is a “pump-and-dump” scam in disguise.
VerSteeg defended her intentions when she spoke to Forbes:
“We don’t need money in our own lives. We don’t need fame. Out of our own desire to help, we decided to make it [ParagonCoin] for the community.”
VerSteeg convinced rapper The Game to help out with Paragon’s promotional effort ahead of its ICO fundraiser. But when the price of ParagonCoin plummeted after the ICO was over, a group of Paragon investors hit VerSteeg’s company with a class action lawsuit.
“From September 15, 2017 through October 16, 2017, Defendants ran the Paragon ICO “crowd sale,” during which time PRG Tokens were offered and sold for $1 each on the first day and the price thereafter increased by $0.05 per day until the close of the Paragon ICO. Such price increases were clearly designed to entice early investments.”
Decentralized crypto exchange Cobinhood was able to raise over ten million dollars, but the project took heat when it was revealed that Cobinhood had given Foxx “secret investment discounts.”
Cobinhood launched in June of 2018. It is marketed as “the world’s first zero fee crypto exchange.”
“Looking forward to participating in the new @cobinhood Token! ZERO fee trading! #CryptoCurrency #BitCoin #ETH – cobinhood.com”
Actor Ashton Kutcher made headlines when he went on Ellen to explain why he was using bitcoin to donate the equivalent of four million dollars to charity.
“The notion that we could civically monitor each other in an anonymous way actually keeps the anonymity of the Internet. We don’t have to worry about Big Brother. And that same infrastructure that built out Bitcoin could be used in the security industry for mass good.”
In addition to using crypto for charity purposes, Kitcher has invested in a crypto exchange called BitBay and an eSports gambling platform called Unikrn.
Boxer Mike Tyson was another celebrity bitcoin evangelist that jumped on the crypto trend before it went mainstream. He deployed bitcoin ATM machines in Las Vegas in 2015 and teamed up with a Connexus subsidiary called Bitcoin Direct to release a Tyson-brand digital wallet. Though the Mike Tyson mobile wallet seems to have been pulled from both iTunes and Google Play, it received good reviews from crypto blogs.
In 2015, Tyson revealed to Vice that he had made significant bitcoin investments:
“I’m very proud to be a part of the Bitcoin revolution. Digital currency is the future and the more I learn about it the more intrigued I become. Digital currency is going to level the playing ground for those that want alternatives for financial freedom. No one knows better than I how uncertain the economy can be and at this juncture in my life it is imperative that I am proactive about my financial planning and for me it includes Bitcoin.”
Child star Brock Pierce of “The Mighty Ducks” fame was heavily involved in cryptocurrency until his criminal history came to light.
Comedian John Oliver delivered the final straw when he shed light on Pierce’s murky past in March of 2018. The week after Oliver’s wisecracks aired, cryptocurrency platform EOS severed its relationship with Pierce.
In 2014, ten members of the Bitcoin Foundation resigned when Pierce was elected to the position of Director. Pierce maintained that the allegations against him were false and that he had been wrongfully convicted.
“The allegations against me are not true, and I have never had intimate or sexual contact with any of the people who made those allegations.”
Initially, former NBA commissioner David Stern was a bitcoin skeptic. That point of view changed when he realized the potential of blockchain technology. He recently announced his intention to back a new decentralized sports entertainment system called FanChain.
“My initial thoughts about Bitcoin and blockchain were that we were witnessing a modern day version of the tulip frenzy that would come to nothing and fizzle out. I then came to understand that blockchain technology had much to offer with respect to a range of transactions in many different industries, like the sports sector.”
After becoming a rap star, Nas shifted gears and became heavily involved in Silicon Valley’s tech startup community. After partnering with ride-sharing startup Lyft and mobile laundry service Washio, he teamed up with big name investor Ben Horowitz to invest in bitcoin in 2014.
“[Bitcoin] will evolve into an industry as big, if not bigger, than the Internet. My man Ben Horowitz really opened my eyes to that point. This isn’t of the Internet age, bitcoin is its own age. Obviously challenges will arise from a security and privacy perspective, but the Internet was the same way 20 years ago.”
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow teamed up with crypto wallet app Abra via Apple’s reality TV show Planet of the Apps. App developers pitched their ideas to a team of entrepreneurs for a chance at getting funded.
Barhydt praised Paltrow in a blog post:
“She [Paltrow] has been a huge value add. She’s opened up her network to us, given us valuable business advice, her insights on running a consumer business with hundreds of thousands of paying customers.”
The LydianCoin ICO drew heavy criticism from pundits when Paris Hilton promoted the fundraising effort in a tweet.
Following the tweet, Forbes asked Peter Van Valkenburgh– the Director of Research at Coin Center, a Washington DC-based non-profit research and advocacy group– to look into LydianCoin. He concluded that the project seemed “nonsensical.”
“From looking at the promotional materials, the fairly nonsensical white paper and the personal history of some of the people involved, I would be extremely skeptical about whether there’s any technology here or just an attempt to raise a lot of money off the hype of the ICO bubble.”
Another damning detail: LydianCoin’s founder Gurbaksh Chahal was facing down the possibility of going to prison at the time when Hilton’s tweet was published. Chahal had pleaded guilty to abusing his girlfriend, then violated his parole when he hit a different woman.
LydianCoin’s investors lost almost all their money. According to a press release, LydianCoin’s early investors paid around 25 cents for LydianCoin during the ICO. LydianCoin is now worth around four cents, according to a price quote from crypto exchange CoinFalcon.
Prince Felix of Luxembourg
Blockchain startup TaTaTu generated buzz in the cryptocurrency community when it managed to raise $575 million during its ICO. Prince Felix of Luxembourg was one of several notable public figures involved in the fundraising effort.
TaTaTu is a blockchain-powered video platform that aims to compete with Netflix and YouTube. TaTaTu’s decentralized structure will allow content creators and viewers to share in the revenue generated by the platform. Skeptics of TaTaTu have criticized the project for not indicating how many TaTaTu tokens will be created.
Lady Monika Bacardi
Another notable TaTaTu investor is Bacardi Rum heiress Monika Bacardi. She’s invested over $100 million in the platform, according to CoinTelegraph.
Controversial porn star Storm Daniels is also getting involved in cryptocurrency. Her official site now accepts VIT (Vice Industry Token) payments. In addition to Daniels’ site, VIT is also accepted on a number of other adult entertainment platforms.
Pornhub VP Corey Price issued the following statement about the significance of VIT after his company joined forces with Daniels.
“History has proven that the adult entertainment industry plays a critical role in adoption for innovative technology. We saw that with VHS, Betamax, credit card payment icons and, most recently, VR goggles. We expect to see widespread adoption of crypto and blockchain in short order.”
Actor and “2nd generation zen master” Steven Seagal recently helped promote a new cryptocoin called Bitcoiin2Gen. After CoinDesk pointed out that Bitcoiin2Gen resembles a pyramid scheme, the anonymous developers behind the coin issued a curiously-worded retort:
“Of course, we are not an MLM company or any Pyramid Scheme or Scamming people, all of these allegations are false and just an attempt to discourage people from becoming a part of the Bitcoiin2Gen, Crypto-Currencies, and Crypto-economies.”
Seagal and Bitcoiin2Gen parted ways shortly after the Bitcoiin2Gen ICO ended.
Legendary boxer Evander Holyfield became part of one of the biggest ICO scams ever when he agreed to promote AriseBank. The US Securities and Exchange Commission shut down the ICO after accusing the company of hiding information and lying about their corporate relationships.
“The SEC alleges that AriseBank falsely stated that it purchased an FDIC-insured bank which enabled it to offer customers FDIC-insured accounts and that it also offered customers the ability to obtain an AriseBank-branded VISA card to spend any of the 700-plus cryptocurrencies. AriseBank also allegedly omitted to disclose the criminal background of key executives.”
German soccer coach Lothar Matthaus is one of several sports stars that have teamed up with decentralized talent management agency TokenStars.
“I am very interested in the developments of these projects. Tokenstars is my first and only involvement in blockchain projects and I am keen to learn more about the entire industry.”
A competing blockchain-based talent development platform Globatalent recently teamed up with soccer pro Luis Suarez.
“Happy to support young talents pursuing their dreams with @globatalent #globatalent.”
Source: Globatalent Announces ICO
Mel B was another star that made headlines for being one of the first musicians to accept bitcoin payments.
“I love how new technology makes our lives easier, and to me that’s exciting. Bitcoin unites my fans around the world using one currency. They can just pay using bitcoins!”
DJ Khaled got sucked into a crypto scam when he agreed to promote Centra. The US Securities and Exchange Commission shut down Centra and arrested its two co-founders after claims that they had partnered with credit card services turned out to be completely false.
“The SEC’s complaint, filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, charges Sharma and Farkas with violating the anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, return of allegedly ill-gotten gains plus interest and penalties, as well as bars against Sharma and Farkas serving as public company officers or directors and from participating in any offering of digital or other securities. In a parallel action, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York today announced criminal charges against Sharma and Farkas.”
Along with DJ Khaled, Centra also recruited boxer Floyd Mayweather to promote their crypto swindle. The tweet depicted above shows Mayweather holding a Centra Card. The Centra Card was supposed to give Centra customers the ability to use their crypto funds to buy things in stores.
Redfoo teamed up with his nephew Skyler Austen Gordy (aka Sky Blu) to create a slew of party-oriented hip hop hits in the mid-2000s. But when one of his fans asked him what he was up to on Twitter, Redfoo replied that he was working on a coding project related to distributed blockchain-based platform Ethereum.
Self-help guru Tai Lopez always seems to be in the right place at just the right time. Though he was already wealthy before the bitcoin boom, Lopez raked in even more money when the price of the cryptocurrency rocketed past $20,000 in 2017.
In Lopez’s most well-known video, he lectures his followers about the importance of reading while standing in front of a Lamborghini. Lopez currently has 6.2 million Facebook fans, 2.9 million Instagram followers and over a million YouTube subscribers.
““The real reason I keep this Lambo here is that it’s a reminder — a reminder that dreams are still possible. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in a little town across the country, sleeping on a couch in a mobile home with only $47 in my bank account.”
Self-proclaimed crypto expert James Altucher first made a name for himself by working for Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money. After bitcoin took off in 2017, people started turning to Altucher for answers. Though some pundits have criticized Altucher’s books for being light on specific investment advice and heavy on self-help fluff, Altucher now has over 120,000 paid newsletter subscribers according to Yahoo! Finance.
“I blew [millions of dollars] on expensive toys, trips, and bad ideas, and saw my account go from $15 million to $143 in a matter of months.”