Updated: Jan 20
The world of cryptocurrency is often portrayed as a dangerous underground movement, with news stories focused on the potential perils and painting enthusiasts as wacky outsiders. But it’s more mainstream than many people realize, and in 2021, the soaring price of some tokens shows just how much interest there is among the public at large.
Famous people have seen the potential and invested big, using their influence to guide fans toward this growing sector. While some are merely spokespeople, other celebrities were way ahead of the pack when it came to blockchain technology, and have entrenched themselves in this exciting new field, some of them making out like bandits. Here are ten influential people who have planted their flags in the world of crypto and whose influence could potentially shape the future of the market.
In addition to being a movie and TV star, Mila Kunis’s husband has also made a name for himself as a venture capitalist. He’s appeared on Shark Tank, owned restaurants, worked with companies like Lenovo, and created the investments company Sound Ventures. He’s also been touting Bitcoin since 2013, endorsed Ethereum-based art marketplace Cryptograph, and invested in rewards platform Lolli. Kutcher’s investments include BitPay and BitGo, and he even donated $4 million in XRP to charity. With a diverse portfolio that has included companies like Uber and Airbnb, Kutcher’s clearly working hard to stay ahead of the game in the tech world, and it seems like he’s making specific moves to take advantage of the rise of crypto.
Back in 2014, Curtis Jackson III released his album Animal Ambition. At the time, it was a bit of a gamble to accept Bitcoin as payment, but now it looks like the choice paid off big time. He received more than 700 Bitcoin under the deal, worth around $400,000 at the time. If he’d held onto it, it would be worth millions today. However, in filings related to his Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Jackson claimed he “contemporaneously” converted his holdings to cash. So either 50 Cent has committed perjury, or he made the big mistake of not holding onto his Bitcoin. Either way, accepting it as a payment method proved to be a smart move, and one many artists probably wish they’d had the foresight to make back then.
An Academy Award-winning actress, Gwyneth Paltrow has also become somewhat infamous as the entrepreneurial mind behind Goop, a lifestyle company worth a quarter of a billion dollars that has been incredibly successful despite being dogged by accusations of making misleading health claims. Her business acumen led to her being a participant in Apple’s series Planet of the Apps, where she joined payment app Abra as an advisor. It’s not a stretch to think many in Paltrow’s core readership may not have been familiar with crypto before hearing about it from her, so her involvement could spur a big increase in interest from an undervalued segment of the population. As of 2019, far more men than women were familiar with major cryptocurrencies, but there’s no reason that can’t change.
As one half of popular music duo LMFAO, Redfoo (real name Stephen Kendal Gordy) rose to fame on the back of hits like “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy and I Know It.” These days, it appears Redfoo has relaxed some of his partying ways and found an exciting new career in the world of crypto. In addition to working with TokenStars, he also claims to have been working on his own dapp on Ethereum’s blockchain. While most celebrities simply invest in companies or get paid for endorsements, it seems Redfoo has actually been coding a prediction app. How far he goes in the tech world remains to be seen, but it’s something to witness the man behind the song “Shots” inspiring people to get into programming.
The former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Iron Mike has led a colorful life, so maybe it’s no surprise to see his name popping up in the new frontier of blockchain. Tyson partnered with Bitcoin Direct to bring the Mike Tyson Bitcoin ATM to Las Vegas back in 2016. They also released a digital wallet, and Tyson expressed his belief that digital currencies “are going to be a normal part of our monetary systems.” More recently, he spearheaded “Fight to Fame,” a platform employing blockchain for the boxing world. While some celebrities have gotten in trouble for touting coins, Tyson seems focused on the technology’s practical applications. Plenty of people have underestimated Mike Tyson and gone on to regret it, so perhaps it’s not crazy to think he could be a success in the blockchain sphere.
Melanie Brown, formerly known as Scary Spice, is a colossal success by any metric. A member of the best-selling girl group of all time, the Spice Girls, she’s made millions as a musician and TV personality on shows such as America’s Got Talent, but her biggest coup may be her early adoption of crypto. In 2013, she began accepting Bitcoin as a payment method for music sales on her website, when its price was less than $950. As of February 2021, it’s worth 50 times that much, so if she chose to hold onto her crypto, she’s made quite a lot of coin from that one decision.
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss
Though their names became a bit of a punchline after the film The Social Network, the Winklevoss twins, who settled their dispute with Mark Zuckerberg over the creation of Facebook for $65 million in cash and stock, are the ones laughing now. That Facebook stock ended up being worth almost $500 million, but the twins didn’t stop there. They turned an $11 million investment in Bitcoin into more than $1 billion. They’re still betting big on crypto, founding exchange Gemini and doubling down on their belief in Bitcoin. As long as cryptocurrency’s popularity increases, so do the Winklevoss twins’ bank accounts.
Most hip-hop fans know Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, AKA Nas, as one of the greatest rappers of all time. They may be less familiar with his business portfolio, which includes Las Vegas shoe store 12amrun and investments in businesses like Ring, Dropbox, Lyft, Casper, and Robinhood through his company, Queensbridge Venture Partners. One of the company’s smartest bets was on exchange platform Coinbase, poised to go public in 2021 at a valuation of as much as $75 billion. It’s unclear what other crypto investments they may have planned for the future, but judging by his track record, if Nas backs something, it’s got potential.
There’s not much that hasn’t already been written about the man who’s spent time as the world’s richest human. Musk, the brains behind Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Company, is as influential as they come. He’s made a lot of noise about Dogecoin, with a single Tweet leading to an 800% surge in the coin’s price. It remains to be seen whether Musk’s ability to move markets will be a good thing or a bad thing for the future of blockchain, but it’s undeniable that he’s raised awareness of the possibilities of cryptocurrency. He’s continued to back Dogecoin and Tesla has bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin. However, Musk has also warned people against overcommitting to crypto speculation. With his money and influence, Musk could genuinely affect the future of the industry with a few casual remarks, so it’s worth keeping an eye on his opinions.
As one of the most popular and accomplished athletes the world has ever seen, no one could blame Serena Williams if she simply took her 23 Grand Slam singles titles and called it a day. However, she’s also active in the world of business with her company, Serena Ventures, which has investments in over 30 companies, including CoinTracker, a tax software and crypto portfolio manager. She also at one time claimed to have invested in Coinbase, though it’s no longer listed among the company’s portfolio. It’s possible the investment was sold due to conflict over the company’s stance on activism. What’s clear is that Serena isn’t just a casual spectator; she’s deeply intrenched into the world of crypto, and the more big names like Serena get involved, the harder it’s going to be for companies to remain apolitical in turbulent times.
Only time will tell if these famous individuals will continue to find success in cryptocurrency, but we’re likely to see many more celebrities jump on the bandwagon as they witness the results these early adopters are getting. For every one of these success stories, there are a few failures who bet on the wrong tokens, proving that fame and influence can’t get you everything; it’s the investors who understand the technology and accurately predict where the market is headed who will come out on top.
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