Failed crypto exchange FTX was in talks with Taylor Swift for a $100 million sponsorship months before the collapse.
A new report from the Financial Times details the full extent of the would-be partnership. They include a ticketing arrangement featuring NFT technology–similar to that used by Coachella. Coachella’s NFT solution is now missing, and it’s unclear what will happen there.
The CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, created several high-profile celebrity partnerships. FTX struck deals with US football star Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen. Tennis star Naomi Osaka and basketball players Shaquille O’Neal and Steph Curry also had deals. Larry David also famously participated in the FTX Super Bowl commercial–now the subject of a lawsuit.
According to the Financial Times, the 30-year-old CEO favored approving the deal because he’s a fan of Taylor Swift. Claire Watanabe, a senior executive in FTX’s business development team, was seen by former employees as the driving force behind the Taylor Swift potential partnership.
“Those pushing to scrap the talks though the partnership with Swift was too expensive and questioned whether previous celebrity deals were delivering value for money,” the Financial Times reports. “No one really liked the [Taylor Swift] deal. It was too expensive from the beginning,” said one person speaking on the negotiations.
Sam Bankman-Fried was persuaded to drop the Taylor Swift deal by senior executives at FTX. Another former employee said the exchange still sought a ‘light degree of endorsement’ from Taylor Swift on social media–but Swift never contemplated agreeing to endorse it. “Taylor would not and did not agree to an endorsement deal. The discussion was around a potential tour sponsorship that did not happen,” says another person familiar with the negotiations.
FTX spent $135 million securing the naming rights to the Miami basketball stadium, FTX Arena. On November 24, Miami-Dade county is now asking the federal bankruptcy judge to terminate that deal so it could secure a different name.