Kim Kardashian is the latest celebrity to land in legal trouble for unlawfully promoting a crypto product to her followers without disclosing details around the payment she had received to do so. The reality star settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission by paying a $1.26 million penalty for promoting a crypto security sold by EthereumMax.
While the action could be a win for the SEC in terms of stricter enforcement of crypto rules (Chairman Gary Gensler is already crowing about it on Twitter), others rushed to Kardashian’s defense (such as in this since-deleted tweet), arguing the action was unfair because Kardashian is a woman.
Before anyone else jumps to support her, remember this: Any defense of Kardashian on the grounds of her identity is inaccurate and misguided. Aside from the fact that Kardashian, alongside her family, is known for stealing, scamming, misleading and exploiting, she’s far from the only celebrity at risk of being hit with penalties for shilling crypto products.
For example, the SEC charged Floyd Mayweather Jr. and DJ Khaled back in 2018 for promoting investments in initial coin offerings. Both paid tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and were banned from promoting any securities, digital or otherwise, for years.
Before anyone takes crypto advice, of all things, from a celebrity like Matt Damon on the internet, one should ask if Matt Damon takes financial advice from Matt Damon.
Many celebrities pushing crypto products have yet to face off with the SEC, though Gensler’s tweets could signal that for that group, the worst is yet to come. Mark Cuban is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging that his promotion of the now-bankrupt Voyager Digital crypto platform resulted in more than 3.5 million investors losing a collective $5 billion. Matt Damon has avoided any legal action against him for his multimillion-dollar spots promoting Crypto.com because they were explicitly labeled as advertising, but he’s certainly faced a good deal of criticism, especially after the exchange was hacked for $34 million in January.
Suggesting that Kardashian doesn’t deserve criticism of any wrongdoing because she’s a woman is a tired, old argument and one typically only offered in defense of white women, usually by the same people who wouldn’t hesitate to pump crypto on their social media accounts in exchange for a $250,000 check.
In Kardashian’s case, EthereumMax was an unknown token worth almost nothing before she posted about it on Instagram.