Kevin ‘Mr. Wonderful’ O’Leary Of ‘Shark Tank’ Had His Tail Between His Legs As He Got Grilled On CNBC About Being Paid $15 Million To Promote FTX: ‘I Did Not Do Enough Due Diligence’

If celebrities have learned one lesson about paid endorsements in 2022, it’s that promoting crypto can be a risky business. (See: Kim Kardashian, Tom Brady, and Madison Cawthorn — remember him?) As The Daily Beast reports, Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary is the latest bold-faced name to learn that lesson the hard way.

In August 2021, O’Leary, a.k.a. “Mr. Wonderful,” publicly announced that he had made a deal worth $15 million to become a stakeholder and spokesperson for FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that also managed to sign Larry David and Tom Brady as celebrity spokespeople. Last month, the company officially declared bankruptcy — but its behind-the-scenes dealings are rumored to be much more devious. According to reports, 30-year-old company founder Sam Bankman-Fried (who goes by SBF) actually made off with about $10 billion before letting the company collapse.

On Thursday, O’Leary was a guest on CNBC’s Squawk Box, where co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin grilled him on his journey from “calling crypto ‘garbage’ at one point… to deciding that this was something you were going to stand behind.” Sorkin also, of course, wanted to know how much money O’Leary had lost in all the shady shenanigans. The Shark didn’t mince words: “We all look like idiots,” O’Leary said. “Let’s put that on the table. We relied on each others’ due diligence.”

As for how his change of heart regarding crypto came about, O’Leary says that it was largely due to Bankman-Fried, who was offering one of the few Americans offering a chance to invest in crypto. And that witnessing the digital currency’s growth in other countries such as Canada, Switzerland, and Australia got O’Leary thinking: “Wait a second, [the] world’s changing, I’ve got to be an investor.”

Unfortunately, that investment cost him just about every penny of that $15 million payday he was supposed to see. As The Daily Beast wrote:

O’Leary insisted that virtually all of his $15 million payday has disappeared. Some of the original figure went to agent fees, he said. A $1 million equity stake in FTX has vaporized, as has $9.7 million he put into crypto assets.

The Shark Tank judge claimed that other investors had approached him seeking a way to acquire a piece of FTX and he rebuffed them because he was a paid spokesperson. “Not a single dollar that I lost is anybody else’s money,” he said.

Ultimately, however, O’Leary is sticking by SBF, who recently swore that there was no malicious intent on his part and that he did not defraud his customers.

You can watch O’Leary’s Squawk Box interview in two parts, above and below:

(Via The Daily Beast)