Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

'I Was Just a Paid Spokesman': Shaquille O'Neil Tries to Distance Himself From FTX Scandal

The Big Fella is entangled in the big Sam Bankman-Fried FTX crypto mess.


After being named in a class-action lawsuit against the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neil told CNBC Make It that he was just a celebrity in a commercial and nothing more.

Roger Kisby | Getty Images

"A lot of people think I'm involved, but I was just a paid spokesperson for a commercial," O'Neal said.

The class-action lawsuit names O'Neal and other celebrities who starred in FTX commercials, including Tom Brady and Larry David, alleging that they "either controlled, promoted, assisted in, [or] actively participated in FTX Trading," which the lawsuit categorizes as a Ponzi scheme.

Related: Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried Reportedly Spent $2,500 On Food — A Day — in The Bahamas. He Also Owned $40 Million Penthouse.

On Monday, FTX founder and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas. The Bahamian government explained that the arrest "followed receipt of formal notification from the United States that it has filed criminal charges" against Bankman-Fried.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced charges against Bankman-Fried: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission and commit campaign finance violations.

Previous to his commercial appearance, Shaq told CNBC that he didn't believe in crypto: "I don't understand it, so I will probably stay away from it until I get a full understanding of what it is."

He added: "From my experience, it is too good to be true."

Related: 'A Complete Failure of Corporate Control': FTX Corporate Attacks Sam Bankman-Fried in Bankruptcy Filing

In the commercial, however, Shaq says he is "all in" on crypto and asks, "Are you?"

In June of 2021, Shaq told Front Office Sports that he was suspicious of crypto endorsement deals he was being offered.

"I always get these companies that say: 'Hey, we'll give you $900,000 in crypto to send out a tweet.' So I have to say: 'OK, if you're going to give me a million dollars worth of crypto, then why do you need me?'" O'Neal told the outlet.

"A couple of my friends got caught up in a little scam like that one time," he added.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks