Although he finds the crypto space exciting, Jimmy O. Yang revealed that he has turned down multiple paid cryptocurrency promotion offers in the past, fearing that his endorsements might influence his fans to pursue unsafe investments.
Speaking to Vice’s Motherboard, the 35-year-old comedian and actor admitted he and his partner, venture capitalist Brianne Kimmel, have always been careful about getting into endorsement deals, particularly when it involves cryptocurrencies.
“Especially with something like crypto, it’s important to [ask] ‘Is it going to hurt the financial well-being of my fans and people who follow me?’” Yang told Motherboard. “For me as an actor, looking at endorsement deals, it’s like, ‘Is it gonna make me look like an asshole?’”
While they themselves have invested in crypto, Yang and Kimmel revealed that they have turned down nearly a dozen “lucrative” endorsement deals, including one from an unverified trading platform that focuses on altcoins — alternative digital currencies that are not Bitcoin.
“These are very hardworking American people who don’t earn a high income and who are less versed in technology,” Kimmel, the founder of Worklife Ventures, was quoted as saying. “To promote a cryptocurrency where they could lose everything is really not a position either of us want to be in.”
While talking about the offer, Kimmel said there were a few red flags about the altcoin trading platform, specifically its unknown owner and its startup.
“There were enough red flags that even really decent compensation wouldn’t warrant the personal financial risk and also risking the financial health and well-being of people that follow him,” Kimmel said, to which Yang agreed.
“There’s already a risk with crypto. But then with the newer companies, who knows what’s going to happen?” Yang added.
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Kimmel shared some of the experiences of their artist and comedian friends who turned to crypto amid the COVID-19 pandemic to make up for lost income as many industries started closing their doors amid the lockdowns.
Risking their savings after hearing “through the grapevine” that the crypto market would blow up, Kimmel shared that some of their friends had lost “50 or 60 percent of what they have through an unknown currency.”
One of Yang’s close friends found success in trading meme stocks during the pandemic, but lost their profits after reinvesting in altcoins, which have since taken a nosedive since their peak in 2021.
“Now it’s all gone, and I’m talking about somebody that has a kid,” Yang said.
Several cryptocurrency platforms have begun investing heavily in marketing in recent years, striking endorsement deals with celebrities and athletes such as Tom Brady, Stephen Curry and Shohei Ohtani.
Yang admitted that he could see why celebrities and athletes are taking up the offers, explaining that they tend to give two or three times higher deals than what traditional brands usually pay.
He added that celebrities should seriously consider the risks of promoting cryptocurrencies to their fans before becoming the public face of a trading platform.
“Nike, say I promote it. My fans like it. They go out and buy a pair of shoes,” Yang explained. “Crypto, you can throw your whole life savings in there.”
“It’s not just a check,” he said. “It’s your career out there, too.”
“We did see friends and family and people lose a lot of money off the back of celebrities that were talking about maybe unsafe investments,” Kimmel added.
Although Yang has been paid before by crypto companies to perform stand-up comedy, the comedian said he hopes that more people will do their research before investing.
“Do your due diligence,” Yang said. “It’s great to invest, but invest smartly.”