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Without even including the new Cult of Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency space has gained immense popularity in the last few years thanks to early supporters and developers, as well as well-known celebrities who have helped promote it along the way. In fact, several celebs have also gotten swept by the hype for cryptocurrencies recently, especially with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) opening up the realm of celebrity-endorsed digital assets to a whole new level.
Other blockchain areas such as decentralized finance (DeFi), have also won the support of influential individuals like Elon Musk and Mark Cuban. These opportunistic overtures from the rich and famous are nothing new and many believe that the involvement of celebrities were an indication that the top of a bull run was near in 2017. Of course, things are very different in 2021.
In this article, we are going to talk about some of the most prominent cryptocurrency and blockchain supporters as well as their potential impact to the whole industry.
Gene Simmons: Cardano and Dogecoin
Gene Simmons, the bassist and frontman for the popular rock band KISS, was one of the most avid fans of Ethereum’s rival project Cardano (ADA). Simmons went to Twitter to voice out his reason for supporting and purchasing ADA tokens, which is the fact that it was under a dollar at the time, making it affordable for everybody.
CryptoTwitter was also quick to bash his logic. Nevertheless, the rock icon was reported to have bought $300,000 worth of ADA.
Simmons also gave praises to Cardano co-founder Charles Hoskinson for his initiative to help with cryptocurrency adoption and financial inclusion in underserved regions in Africa. Responsibly enough, Simmons told his followers to not make their investments based on the endorsement of any celebrity in particular.
Simmons also proclaimed himself as the “”God of Dogecoin” after boasting about buying “six figures” worth of the joke currency.
Elon Musk, the South African-born founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is without a doubt the greatest promoter currently in the business arena and famous for his ability to get away with PR stunts that conjure up memories of the late and great Steve Jobs. Following his erratic and wildly influential sporadic shills of Bitcoin and Doge, much of it tongue in cheek, Musk may perhaps be the biggest influencer in the cryptocurrency space thanks to his 52.2 million followers on Twitter and pull on mainstream media like Forbes and Bloomberg.
Recently, Tesla was reported to have sold 10% of its BTC holdings and cashed out $101 million in profit. According to Musk, he has not personally sold any of his Bitcoin and that the only reason Tesla sold a small portion of its bag was to “prove liquidity of Bitcoin as an alternative to holding cash on balance sheets.”.
(If you’re new to Bitcoin, read our Big Bitcoin Beginner Book here)
Musk may be a major supporter of Bitcoin, but he appears to have a special fondness for meme crypto Dogecoin (DOGE). Musk is also known to be one of the top two influencers of DOGE’s rise, together with WallStreetBets. He has tweeted over a dozen times about the joke coin, which has significantly helped in pumping the coin to an all-time high of $0.402, an 83x increase year-to-date.
Recently, Musk tweeted that “SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon.” While some people thought of it as another April Fool’s joke, this form of support from Musk is nothing new to the cryptoverse.
Logan Paul, a controversial YouTuber, content creator, and influencer, also got wind of the NFT craze and took his first dip into the market with the launch of his own NFT. According to some reports, Paul was able to sell a total of $5 million worth of NFTs last February 2021.
The tokens Paul sold came in the form of digital Pokemon cards auctioned in a Polkadot-based NFT marketplace called Bondly, whom Paul has partnered with.
The internet personality sold a total of 2,586 NFTs, with over $1 million in profit in just one hour in Bondly, with each piece costing around 1 ETH at the time.
Billionaire entrepreneur/investor Mark Cuban is popularly known for being the owner of the NBA team Dallas Mavericks, a star in the hit reality TV series Shark tank, and a controversial figure in the crypto space. Being the savvy businessman he is, he’s recently thrown his full weight behind digital assets (some say jumped on the bandwagon) and is currently cheerleading Dogecoin’s march to $1, by also accepting DOGE at his Dallas Mavericks headquarters for tickets and merch. Of course, there’s method behind Cuban’s madness
Back in 2019, Cuban directed criticism at Bitcoin, where he expressed his doubts on the crypto asset being a reliable currency for the future. “It’s too difficult to use, too easy to hack, way too easy to lose, too hard to understand, too hard to assess a value,” Cuban stated in an interview with Forbes.
And even way back in 2017, Cuban referred to the apex cryptocurrency as a bubble where “we don’t know when it’ll burst”. But in a surprising turn of events, Cuban went all in to support Bitcoin in 2020, even going as far as to say that given its price reliance on solid economic factors like supply and demand, it is likely to continue to appreciate in value. “There is no reason for the demand not to increase,” Cuban adds.
Cuban also voiced his views in the Ethereum (ETH) project, which he believes will outpace BTC in the future. He also thinks that ETH 2.0 will usher in a new landscape for the whole cryptocurrency market through its support for smart contracts and blockchain extensions at scale.
Cuban has taken a special interest in DeFi, where he described the industry at present as a game of musical chairs where you “just don’t know when the music will stop”. However, if you are agile enough, it could be a smart investment. He further advises assessing DeFi variables like transaction fees, APYs, and how long it would take to earn back the fees before doing any form of transactions, whether they be token swaps or liquidity mining.
Iconic rapper Snoop Dogg is surprisingly one of the longest-running supporters of Bitcoin, and one of the first artists willing to accept payment in BTC for his album sales. It’s no surprise that in 2021, he resurfaced in the crypto industry to help amp up the bull run.
In February, Snoop tweeted this edited photo of him was labeled “Snoop Doge,” tagging Elon Musk.
Snoop Dogg also released his first NFT collection back in March 30, entitled “A Journey with the Dogg,” which was a variety of his outputs, including an original track entitled “NFT.” This was made available through Crypto.com’s NFT platform, where people can purchase the offering via debit or credit cards.
According to Snoop Dogg, “I’ve seen the game change over the years from analog to digital and I’m always happier when the technology lets the fans get to connect with the artists.”
Snoop’s fellow rapper 50 Cent is also ‘in the club”. He made headlines when he netted millions after accepting 700 Bitcoin for album sales and then forgetting about in 2017. Hope he HODLed!
We’d be here all day if we had to document every entry in the rapidly growing lists of celebs who go gaga for crypto, especially with scores of athletes and artists now minting their own NFTs. Other famous people who love cryptocurrencies include football stars Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, actors Ashton Kutcher, Jamie Foxx, Maisie Williams and Gwyneth Paltrow, boxers Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather, entrepreneurs and influencers like Gary Vee and Paris Hilton and many more.
Celebrity crypto endorsements gone bad
It is also worth recalling the crypto fiasco that happened way back 2017 with boxing champion Floyd Mayweather and music mogul DJ Khaled, who both shilled Centra Tech, a Miami-based cryptocurrency company that offered crypto-based financial products such as debit cards. Sohrab Sharma, the owner of the firm, was sentenced to eight years for his illegal initial coin offering (ICO).
Martial arts star Steven Seagal also had to settle with the SEC after shilling a fake Bitcoin project. The picture below really speaks for itself.
Probably the most famous shiller of crypto during the 2017 and 2018 crypto era had to be John McAfee, who was made an estimated $23 million for illegally promoting ICO projects at the time. McAfee, the wild man of crypto, was eventually arrested and charged by the DoJ for unlawfully promoting crypto securities, and is currently in jail.
Tron is another crypto project that was proven to have some players conducting unethical marketing campaigns, such as paying influencers and celebrities who are not well-informed about crypto to promote TRX, which was later divulged by tech-focused Youtuber Marques Brownlee. Browlee revealed that a representative of Tron’s promotion campaign offered him a sponsorship deal to promote the project. CEO Justin Sun has denied his and the Tron Foundation’s involvement.
Brownlee’s screenshot of the email sent by the Tron promoter also revealed that the same entity had paid Lindsay Lohan, Ne-Yo, and Amanda Cerny, to shill TRX on Twitter prior to Brownlee. In January 2021, Lindsay Lohan was also paid via Cameo to state that “Ethereum is going to $10,000 and Bitcoin is going to $100,000” this year. So far though she’s kinda… on track?
Is Celebrity Endorsement Good or Bad for Crypto?
Yes and no. Despite these events, celebrity promotions are not necessarily bad. One of Bitcoin’s early adopters was rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was able to educate a lot of his fans about the real utility of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While a lot of crypto enthusiasts talk about the power of its technology, he was more focused on the value it brings to consumers. Nipsey also advised caution when investing in these assets and encouraged people to do their own research.
Celebrity endorsement has both good and bad sides. Firstly, not all crypto endorsers are created equal. Some have technical backgrounds like Jack Dorsey and Musk who might have a better understanding of these assets’ underlying technologies, while others are merely influencers, actors, and artists who might not know any more than the average person.
The fact that a meme coin happens to be one of the most endorsed cryptocurrencies in this list already says a lot.
Famous people technically have more reach than the average person and if they do it right, their endorsement could help push the crypto space forward in a meaningful way. A big part of Dapper Labs’ stellar success with NBA TopShot is that NBA players themselves got in on the action and started trading and promoting their Moments. Even those that merely shill crypto projects provide some value in their own way. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any consequences. But people will lose money in any market with or without celebrity endorsements.
It would be best if influential people promote the entire crypto space in general instead of cherry-picking individual projects, especially if they don’t understand them fully, but that may be too much to ask.
Considering the repercussions of famous people promoting scams, pump-and-dumps, and low quality altcoins, it is important to always remember that when it comes to investing, we have to look beyond other people’s opinions, whether they’re famous or not. The fact of the matter is that even the so-called experts in crypto are barely past the experimental phase in this nascent industry, so why should we trust our money with people who are even less knowledgeable?
The way this is going it might be possible that some governments will ban any form of endorsement of tokens by celebrities sometime in the next few months, depending on how this all plays out. Regardless of what happens, like the internet, crypto is here to stay.