Biographer says that former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried wanted to pay former President Donald Trump $5 billion to not pursue reelection.
Michael Lewis, author of “The Big Short” and the disgraced crypto boss’ biographer, told 60 Minutes” about the ploy while promoting his upcoming book, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon.”
Interviewer Jon Wertheim said that the revelation was “one of the most shocking passages” in Lewis’s novel, which goes on sale today.
“That only shocks you if you don’t know Sam,” Lewis chuckled.
Michael Lewis reports that Sam Bankman-Fried considered paying Donald Trump not to run for president. He even got a number: $5 billion, but never learned if it was a serious figure that came from Trump himself. https://t.co/WtGO1TPP4A pic.twitter.com/WeKCNByiTk
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 1, 2023
He said that the Democratic donor, who allegedly stole $100 million in FTX deposits to bankroll liberal candidates prior to the 2022 midterm elections, found out that it would take $5 billion for Trump to stop pursuing the White House in 2024.
“There was a number that was kicking around when I was talking to Sam about this was $5 billion,” Lewis remarked. “Sam wasn’t sure that number came directly from Trump.”
Though he questioned if it was “enough” money to stop the 45th president from attempting to become the 47th, and if the transaction would be “legal.”
According to Lewis, Bankman-Fried wasn’t able to follow through with the offer, as “they were still having these conversations when FTX blew up.”
“So why didn’t it happen,” he asked rhetorically. “He didn’t have $5 billion anymore.”
FTX collapsed in November 2022, when Bankman-Fried was accused of stealing billions from investors to cover losses at the crypto currency hedge fund he managed, Alameda Research.
Elsewhere in the interview Lewis said SBF paid big bucks to celebrities to endorse FTX for minimal amounts of work.
Bankman-Fried turned to the sports world to bring his FTX crypto exchange legitimacy and visibility. Author Michael Lewis says he saw internal documents that showed the tens of millions paid to Tom Brady and Steph Curry, and for a Superbowl ad, Larry David. pic.twitter.com/Fx6qfhrdPJ
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) October 1, 2023
He named former NFL star Tom Brady, his ex-wife Gisele Bündchen, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry, and actor Larry David, amongst others.
“He paid Tom Brady $55 million for 20 hours a year for three years,” Lewis detailed. “He paid Steph Curry $35 million for the same thing for three years.”
“He spent $100 million buying the naming rights for the Miami Heat arena,” he continued. “He spent $25 million making a Super Bowl ad with Larry David.”
Lewis said he paid David another $10 million on top of the commercial’s cost. Wertheim asked if the celebrities did it because they were well paid, or if they actually found SBF “interesting.”
“Tom Brady I think adored him,” Lewis explained. “Brady thought he was just a really interesting person. I think he liked to hear what he had to say.”
He noted that though Bankman-Fried “wasn’t a big sports person,” he “really liked” Brady.
“It was funny to watch that interaction,” Lewis went on. “It’s like the class nerd and the quarterback. The quarterback somehow likes him, and he somehow likes the quarterback.”
However, when news broke about FTX’s $32 billion collapse, and SBF was charged with seven counts of fraud and conspiracy, Brady was “crushed.”
The seven-time Super Bowl winner was sued alongside SBF and FTX’s other celebrity spokespeople for targeting “unsuspecting and unwitting” crypto investors into participating in a “Ponzi scheme.”
“FTX’s fraudulent scheme was designed to take advantage of unsophisticated investors from across the country, who utilize mobile apps to make their investments,” the complaint filed in Miami reads.
“As a result, American consumers collectively sustained over $11 billion dollars in damages.”
Brady has since gone from “sad” to “angry” at his former friend and employer.
“As time has gone by and he’s ceased to get a really good explanation about what’s happened, I think [Brady] is just like, ‘He tricked me. I’m angry. I don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore,’” Lewis added.
Bankman-Fried is looking at a maximum of 110 years in prison, and is currently awaiting trial in jail after a judge determined he likely tampered with witnesses more than once, while under house arrest at his parent’s California home.