Famed Canadian investor and co-host of the Shark Tank, Kevin O’Leary, signed on to become the official ambassador and spokesperson for Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange FTX – and he asked to be paid in crypto.
As part of his multi-year contract with one of the world’s most popular crypto exchanges, O’Leary will be paid in tokens and get an equity stake in the owners and operators of FTX.com, FTX Trading, and West Realm Shires.
FTX described the new arrangement with O’Leary as a “long-term relationship” that centers on an ambassador deal and equity investment. The entrepreneur will work on promoting FTX to a broader audience, while his crypto paycheck will be managed through the FTX platform.
“I want to increase my crypto exposure but also serve my compliance mandates,” O’Leary said after news of his new deal went public.
“Institutional investors struggle with the decision to invest in crypto assets. Not because they don’t want to, but because they have difficulty in knowing with certainty that they will be 100% compliant with regulators and reporting requirements. I am no different,” he added. “To find crypto investment opportunities that met my own rigorous standards of compliance, I entered into this relationship with FTX.”
Both his contract with FTX and his comments mark a notable departure from his previous position on digital currencies. Two years ago, O’Leary declared that he didn’t have an “interest in doing any of this crypto crap because it is not compliant,” and he described bitcoin as a “rogue” currency. He used other colorful descriptions for bitcoin in January when he called it a “giant nothing-burger”, alluding to the lack of BTC regulatory frameworks.
However, only a few months later, in May, O’Leary had already become a bitcoin believer, revealing that currency made up 3% of his portfolio.