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Sam Bankman-Fried withdraws from $1 billion political donation estimate

Sam Bankman-Fried, Founder and CEO of the FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, Speaks at the Annual Membership Meeting of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) in Washington, DC, Thursday, October 13, 2022 To do.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has retracted earlier comments suggesting he could spend more than $1 billion on the race between now and the 2024 election.

In May, the 30-year-old said on Pushkin Industries’ “What’s Your Problem” podcast that he expects to give “more than $100 million” in the upcoming presidential election and has a “soft ceiling” of $1 billion. But in an interview with Politico’s Morning Money this week, the founder of global cryptocurrency exchange FTX called it a “silly quote.”

“I think my messaging was sloppy and incoherent at times,” said Bankman-Fried, founder of trading firm Alameda Research.

Instead, Bankman-Fried reportedly invested about $40 million in political action committees and campaigns in the run-up to the midterm elections this year, most of it going to Democratic candidates. The FTX CEO, who has raised over $28 million to date, is the driving force behind the Protect Our Future PAC and could move the needle in the upcoming house race.

For now, however, Bankman-Fried has paused campaign spending, telling Politico:

“More time, more messages, more money, and more. [but] We haven’t achieved anything more than that,” the FTX CEO told Politico.

The crypto market has crashed since Bankman-Fried first promised to spend hundreds of millions of dollars earlier this year.

Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, has fallen more than 50% in the past six months and is down more than 70% since hitting an all-time high in November 2021. It has a market capitalization of about $3 trillion, which today is less than $1 trillion.

Bankman-Fried has spent a lot of money over the past few months to prop up the digital asset industry in the crypto winter of 2022. The quant trader-turned-CEO has bailed out multiple cryptocurrency companies to protect them from the wider contagion impact across the sector, Bankman-Fried said in September when he announced that he was on CNBC. to FTX, where he still needs to deploy $1 billion.

Bankman-Fried was also interested in financing Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter, recently disclosed as part of Twitter’s lawsuit to force Musk to buy it. At one point, the billionaire was ready to commit up to $8 billion, according to a message from Bankman-Fried “collaborator” Professor Will MacAskill to Musk. . However, according to reports, he never made a formal offer.

Meanwhile, U.S. regulators and politicians have turned their attention to cryptocurrency policy more and more in recent months. A series of bankruptcies and crackdowns on crypto banks are undermining confidence in the emerging asset class.

In September, for example, the Biden White House released the first-ever framework for what U.S. cryptocurrency regulation should look like, including how to crack down on fraud in the digital asset space.

CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.

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