The Most Shameless Celebrity Crypto Endorsements Ranked

There is a bizarre symbiotic relationship between celebrities and the finance industry. Celebrities are famous and cool, but they rarely have as much money as they’d like. The finance industry has more money than it knows what to do with, but is not cool in the slightest. So companies in the finance industry give some of their money to celebrities to make public statements about their thing, and the celebrities rarely ask questions about the underlying mechanisms that make the thing actually work, because hey, free money. Nowhere is this mutually beneficial model of capitalism more prevalent than in the world of cryptocurrency, where companies literally create money out of nothing and then try to sell it to people. In such situations, having a celebrity in your corner can reallllllly come in handy.

With all that in mind, I am proud to present to you the official Celebrity Crypto Endorsement Power Rankings™, an attempt to make sense of the topsy-turvy world of, uh, celebrity crypto endorsements. Celebrities will be rated on their fame (F), the shamelessness of the plug (SoP), the randomness of them endorsing the project in question (RoE), the probability that they have any degree of cryptocurrency fluency (PCF), and the relative fraudulence of the project in question (RF). The highest score for any given category is 4.2 million — PCF and RF will be graded inversely, because true power means endorsing an obvious scam that you know nothing about — for a total potential score of 21 million, in honor of the total number of bitcoin in existence.

Imogen Heap (Mycelia)
Fame: 1 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 0.9 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 0.4 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 0.4 million
Relative Fraudulence: 1.3 million

This one’s kind of boring, in that singer-songwriter Imogen Heap is clearly a smart person with a track record of doing interesting things with tech who seems to be trying to use the blockchain universe to keep musicians from getting screwed. Given that Heap’s blockchain project Mycelia seems designed to actually help people rather than bilk them out of their money, she should be supremely proud that she has the lowest rank on this list.

Total Score: 4 million

Bill Clinton (Ripple)
Fame: 4.2 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 0.58 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 2.5 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 1.3 million
Relative Fraudulence: 2.1 million

If we’re discussing fame in terms of sheer name recognition, it is harder to be more famous than Bill Clinton. The guy was literally the President of the United States, and has spent much of his post-presidency cashing in on that fact by giving speeches to whoever’s down to pay him. This, I assume, is how he ended up speaking at Ripple’s Swell conference earlier this month. Given that his talk consisted of some dark musings on geopolitics plus an admonition to blockchain developers to not make things worse than they already are, it’s unclear how much Clinton actually knows about cryptocurrency (though, as BREAKER pointed out, somebody gave Clinton a bitcoin in 2016). Still, no matter what you think of him, it’s hard to deny that Clinton’s an extremely intelligent guy, and I assume Ripple paid him enough that he at least felt obligated to have some aide brief him on their white paper.

Ripple is technically not a fraud in that it is an actual company and XRP is an actual cryptocurrency that you can use. On the other hand, if I had gotten a lot of money from a scam I was running and wanted to prove I definitely wasn’t running a scam, I would probably put on a conference and pay Bill Clinton to speak at it to give myself a little no-questions-asked credibility. Therefore Ripple gets a 2.1 million fraudulence score, and it is my sincere hope that the Ripple Twitter hordes will not find this post and yell at me online.

Total Score: 10.68 million

Ashton Kutcher (Ripple)
Fame: 3.1 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 3.8 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 1.2 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 0.5 million
Relative Fraudulence: 2.1 million

Ashton Kutcher is in many ways the dream celebrity crypto endorser, partially because he has an actual history as a venture capitalist, but mainly because he has a magical ability to make every character he portrays seem like the type of person who would have bought bitcoin at $20k. Here, he’s serving as a stand-in for all the celebrities who randomly were super into XRP this spring—Stephen Colbert, Snoop Dogg, etc.—as part of Ripple’s charm offensive to get normal people to give a shit about XRP. While Ripple’s plan didn’t necessarily work, it did lead to Ashton Kutcher (who, through his VC firm, is actually a Ripple investor) going on Ellen and donating $4 million in XRP to some charity, displaying the same misguided enthusiasm for crypto that informed his performances in Jobs, Dude, Where’s My Car?, The Butterfly Effect, Just Married, and the later seasons of Two and a Half Men.

Total Score: 10.7 million

Ghostface Killah (CREAM Capital)
Fame: 2.3 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 3.9 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 0.9 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 2.9 million
Relative Fraudulence: 4.0 million

I genuinely wonder whether the team behind CREAM Capital, a company that claims to be creating a bunch of crypto ATMs, decided on their name before or after they convinced Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan to sign on as their “Chief Branding Officer.” Either way, despite the lofty goals espoused in their white paper (updated May 2018!), CREAM Capital does nothing and their ERC-20 token is basically worthless. Still, of all the people on this list, Ghostface Killah is definitely the coolest, so he gets a pass.

Total Score: 14 million

Floyd Mayweather (Centra)
Fame: 3.7 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 3.9 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 1 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 3.8 million
Relative Fraudulence: 4.2 million

It’s time to dip our collective toes into the extremely fraudulent end of the pool. Floyd Mayweather is responsible for what is perhaps my favorite tweet of the 2017 crypto-craze—a photo of him holding a credit-card-shaped object while wearing a shit-eating grin on his face, accompanied by the caption, “Spending bitcoins ethereum and other types of cryptocurrency in Beverly Hill [sic].” That credit-card-shaped object was from Centra, a company which claimed to have partnerships with Visa and Mastercard and was working on creating a cryptocurrency you could spend at stores like a debit card. Unsurprisingly, it was a scam.

Total Score: 16.6 million

DJ Khaled (Also Centra)
Fame: 3.3 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 3.9 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 3.4 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 1.9 million
Relative Fraudulence: 4.2 million

The only thing DJ Khaled loves more than bragging about his outstanding achievement in the field of excellence is attaching his name to hilariously random shit. So, it’s no surprise that he, too, was caught up in the Centra kerfuffle. But unlike Floyd Mayweather, who is kind of supremely evil, DJ Khaled seems like a nice enough guy, and he’s so full of surprises that he probably somehow knows a bunch about blockchain.

Total Score: 16.7 million

Dennis Rodman (PotCoin)
Fame: 3.0 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 4.2 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 3.4 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 3.9 million
Relative Fraudulence: 3.4 million

Unlike some of the other cryptocurrencies on this list, PotCoin actually attempts to identify a problem (that it’s incredibly difficult for the cash-based legal weed industry to transact with traditional banks) and offer a solution (weed cryptocurrency). Unfortunately for them, PotCoin has never actually made it clear why the legal weed industry should go with them over regular cryptocurrencies. That seems hard as hell. You know what’s way easier? Flying Dennis Rodman to Singapore for the Trump-Kim summit and have him wear a PotCoin shirt on TV. There’s growth hacking, and then there’s saying “fuck it, let’s do something extremely stupid and hope we get attention,” and this is was an incredible case of the latter.

Total Score: 17.9 million

Steven Seagal (Bitcoiin)
Fame: 1.3 million
Shamelessness of Plug: 4.2 million
Randomness of Endorsement: 4.2 million
Probable Crypto Fluency: 4.2 million
Relative Fraudulence: 4.2 million

The only thing that prevents Steven Seagal’s “brand ambassadorship” for “Bitcoiin” from getting a perfect score of 21 million is that Seagal is an aging action star who only makes the news these days for doing things like serving as the brand ambassador for laughably sketchy bitcoin knockoffs whose founders were so lazy that they just decided to throw a second “i” in the word “bitcoin” and hoped nobody noticed. Of all the very funny things related to Bitcoiin, perhaps the funniest is that the project was issued a cease-and-desist order by the state of New Jersey, whose regulators noted that Bitcoiin never disclosed “what expertise, if any, Steven Seagal has to ensure that the Bitcoiin investments are appropriate and in compliance with federal and state securities laws.”

Total Score: 18.1 million

And so, there you have it. In the future, a good rule of thumb is probably this: the weirder it seems that a celebrity, even a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, is involved with a crypto project, the more you should stay away. If they’re someone who’s famous for being smart and technologically engaged, then it’s less likely they’re endorsing an overt scam. At that point, it becomes a philosophical question—is cryptocurrency inherently a scam? Is capitalism? Is life itself? These are the sorts of questions that keep me up at night, and I have never once turned to the likes of Steven Seagal for the answers.