While the crash of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is terrible news for investors, it’s also a worrisome development for Matt Damon and his reputation as a nice-guy movie star.
“The Martian” actor is getting roasted on Twitter for a now infamous 60-second TV ad featured during NFL playoff games and the Super Bowl earlier this year, encouraging people to invest in cryptocurrency. Damon hailed people’s investment in cryptocurrency as the next great human endeavor, as historically game changing as the Wright Brothers inventing human flight or astronauts landing on the moon.
“Fortune favors the brave,” Damon loftily said in the ad, while strolling down a minimalist hallway straight out of a science fiction movie, with visions of some of the world’s great explorers appearing on each side.
As when the ad first ran, Damon was getting ripped on Twitter Thursday for being a multimillionaire who tried to sell regular people on the idea of risking their savings with investments in “wholly artificial assets.”
Then and now, Intercept investigative reporter Ken Klippenstein tore into Damon for probably earning millions to make the ad. Klippenstein tweeted in January:
Matt Damon doing a crypto ad. Jesus Christ does he not have enough money already pic.twitter.com/mS3tUgJ6HT
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 3, 2022
Klippenstein followed up on Wednesday:
Thinking about the obscene amounts of money celebs like Matt Damon must’ve made during the pandemic — one of the largest upward transfers of wealth in decades — and how they still chose to hawk crypto
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) May 11, 2022
Another Intercept writer, Jon Schwarz, pointed out how much money people potentially lost if they were moved by Damon’s TV ad, which premiered in late October.
If you bought $1000 of a bitcoin ETF when Matt Damon’s “Fortune Favors the Brave!” crypto ad premiered on October 28 last year, you would now have $554. pic.twitter.com/qgeVmGYZw7
— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) May 9, 2022
Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier said that Damon used his reputation as a smart, decent, relatable star to essentially promise that investing in cryptocurrency would lead to riches. Instead, “billions and billions of dollars” have been “going poof” in recent weeks.
It took less than a year for NFTs and the metaverse to go from the future of the internet to the latest failed trend. Billions and billions of dollars going *poof*. Just three months ago Matt Damon was in a Super Bowl commercial promising that crypto would lead to riches pic.twitter.com/ZbN2Yfkwz4
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 12, 2022
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies crashed overnight Thursday, dropping to levels not seen since the crypto market began surging in late 2020, Forbes, CNBC and other outlets reported. The crash erased $200 billion in a single day and almost $1 trillion worth of value in a month.
CNBC said investors have been fleeing from cryptocurrencies in recent months, at a time when stock markets also have dropped on fears over inflation and a deteriorating economic outlook in the United Sates.
Amid such volatility, the company Crypto.com apparently thought people would take financial advice from a likable star like Damon. Crypto.com makes an app that facilitates the purchase and sales of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The “Bourne Identity” star isn’t alone among celebrities to hawk digital currency. So have Kim Kardashian, Stephen Curry, Tom Brady, Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin and Neil Patrick Harris, among others.
But Damon’s widely promoted — and mocked — “Fortune favors the brave” ad prompted discussion among business journalists and other experts about the deepening connection between celebrity and cryptocurrency. In an episode of Slate’s “What Next: TBD” podcast, authors Jacob Silverman and Ben McKenzie talked about how they looked into the growing practice of hiring celebrities to promote cryptocurrency for an upcoming book.
They said they discovered that some stars may not entirely understand what they are promoting. Nonetheless, the celebrities took the money, which Silverman and McKenzie found both “disappointing” and surprising, considering that stars are usually pretty protective of their brands and images when it comes to attaching their names to a product.
McKenzie said that celebrities should be obligated to reflect on what they are doing when touting cryptocurrency. “Wouldn’t you feel bad if your fans lost money because you gave them bad financial advice?” McKenzie said.
People on social media Thursday were certainly wondering if Damon feels bad about pushing cryptocurrency. One person tweeted that the crypto crash isn’t funny because some people might have been seriously hurt by following Damon’s lead.
The crypto crash is not even funny any more. People are going to get hurt – and it’s going to be the poor people from marginalized communities who were promised riches by Matt Damon. People are losing their life savings. They’re posting suicide helplines on Reddit. It’s not ok.
— Angelo Gio Mateo (@angelogiomateo) May 12, 2022
But some speculated that maybe Damon doesn’t feel that bad.
Matt Damon isn’t sweating that Super Bowl ad urging you to invest in crypto — after all, Matt got paid in good old fashioned U.S. dollars.
— Max Burns (@themaxburns) May 12, 2022
Others still joked.
who’s gonna play Matt Damon in the movie about the Bitcoin collapse
— CHOAM Nomsky (@samthielman) May 12, 2022
Still others suggested that the situation offers some important lessons on the riskiness of certain markets and on why people should never take financial advice from celebrities:
I feel bad for genuinely poor, desperate people starved by poverty then conned by Matt Damon and Larry David. But otherwise I am happy to see Bitcoin crash and burn before I had to hear more about it, and I hope every pyramid thief who reeled in poor ppl rots in their shame.
— Dr. Thrasher (@thrasherxy) May 12, 2022
Look what happened to people who took Matt Damon’s investment advice right now. Which is why—and this should be obvious to even small children— you should never take investment advice from celebrities.
If someone is trying to sell you something that’s too good to be true, it is.
— Stephen Diehl (@smdiehl) May 12, 2022