As an FTX “ambassador,” Tom Brady appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, on billboards and at FTX’s conference in the Bahamas, promoting the start-up as “the most trusted” institution in crypto.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
As the FTX cryptocurrency exchange imploded last fall, Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, made an urgent phone call.
He dialed Sina Nader, FTX’s head of partnerships. The exchange’s staff was in the middle of a crisis meeting with its beleaguered founder, Sam Bankman-Fried. Mr. Nader couldn’t answer. “I never would’ve expected to decline a call from Tom Brady,” he said.
Mr. Brady had reasons to be concerned. As an “ambassador” for FTX, he had appeared at the company’s conference in the Bahamas and in TV commercials that promoted the exchange as “the most trusted” institution in the loosely regulated world of crypto.
His money was also at stake. As part of an endorsement agreement Mr. Brady signed in 2021, FTX had paid him $30 million, a deal that consisted almost entirely of FTX stock, three people with knowledge of the contract said. Mr. Brady’s wife at the time, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, was paid $18 million in FTX stock, one of the people said.
Now FTX is bankrupt, and Mr. Bankman-Fried is facing criminal fraud charges. Mr. Brady, 45, and Ms. Bündchen, 42, have been sued by a group of FTX customers seeking compensation from the celebrities who endorsed the exchange. On top of it all, the terms of the deal would have required the former couple, who divorced last year, to pay taxes on at least some of their now worthless FTX stock, two people familiar with the endorsement deal said.
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