Bomani Jones, the Emmy-winning sportscaster and host of HBO’s Game Theory, stopped by to chat with Seth Meyers on Wednesday night, where they had a wide-ranging conversation that eventually landed on the curious — and, for many, unfortunate — relationship between cryptocurrency and sports.
It’s a topic Jones has talked about before, including on a March 2022 episode of Game Theory — months before FTX came crashing down — and it was a segment that stuck with Meyers. “Obviously, you were very early here in saying, ‘Hey, this doesn’t quite smell right.’ The whole world of crypto, and how quickly sports is wanting to have a partnership with it,” said the late-night host.
Jones admitted that his suspicions were first aroused almost 10 years ago — by Silk Road, the infamous online marketplace where anyone with an internet connection and access to bitcoin could buy anything from a fake ID to vast amounts of cocaine, heroin, opioids, or whatever other illegal drugs you might fancy. It caught Jones’ attention for a few different reasons, including that “real drug dealers don’t sell drugs on the web. So you knew it wasn’t real drug dealers.”
But the fact that Bitcoin was the website’s sole currency was what really confounded Jones, because: “Why would I trade my money for money that’s not money?”
Yet the brash crypto kings behind many of these volatile digital currencies have looked at professional athletes — and the fans who watch them religiously — as their target market. In 2021, Tom Brady and then-wife Gisele Bündchen became the king and queen of FTX as brand ambassadors (alongside Larry David, of all people) — all three of whom were later sued by FTX customers. But in Jones’ mind, all you needed to do was look at the difference between how traditional investment firms presented themselves and how the crypto gurus did it:
You see a commercial for Merrill Lynch or for Charles Schwab or for any of them other dorks that get up there and do the trading, and they’re always telling you, ‘Take care of your future.’ It’s always very serene and peaceful.
These crypto ads were like, ‘Fortune favors the brave!’ Why do I need to be brave about my money? My entire life is about not being brave about my money. The whole reason that you take your money to somebody to invest it is because you’re NOT brave. It’s because you’re terrified of a zillion different factors. And the only people who were trying to be brave with their money are broke.
You can watch the full conversation above, beginning at the 4:30 mark.