Shohei Ohtani, Naomi Osaka among athletes sued over FTX fall

FTX/Shohei Ohtani

Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani is among a handful of athletes and celebrities who have been sued in a U.S. lawsuit over the collapse of crypto asset exchange FTX.

Ohtani, a pitcher for the U.S. Major League Baseball team Los Angeles Angels, was a global ambassador for FTX, a major crypto exchange platform that went bankrupt last week.

Including Ohtani, a total of 11 athletes and celebrities are being sued for allegedly “luring” consumers into an investment fraud.

The lawsuit was filed by Edwin Garrison, an Oklahoma-based investor in FTX, who claims that the company has operated a “Ponzi scheme” that diverted collected funds to affiliated companies to maintain liquidity, amounting to fraud. 

Among the defendants are celebrities who advertised for FTX, including professional tennis player Naomi Osaka, Tom Brady of the NFL Buccaneers, Steph Curry of the NBA Warriors, and Gisele Bundchen, Brady’s ex-wife and a model. Garrison claims that FTX caused consumers to suffer a loss of US$11 billion, which warrants a class action lawsuit.

Otani became a global ambassador for FTX in November 2021 and as part of his contract he was set to receive all compensation in company equity and cryptocurrencies. FTX is an official sponsor of the U.S. MLB and provides its logo on umpires’ uniforms.

FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on November 11, the equivalent of Japan’s Civil Rehabilitation Law; FTX’s new chief executive, John J. Ray III, has not been sued and has refused to comment, according to Reuters.