Shaquille O’Neal was handled court papers by lawyers representing investors in a class-action lawsuit against a number of high-profile celebrities who endorsed FTX before it collapsed in November. The basketball star was served outside his Atlanta residence late Sunday after being hunted down by lawyers for three months.
“Plaintiffs in the billion $ FTX class action case just served Shaquille O’Neal outside his house. His home video cameras recorded our service and we made it very clear that he is not to destroy or erase any of these security tapes because they must be preserved for our lawsuit,” lawyers at the Moskowitz Law Firm announced on Twitter.
Earlier, Moskowitz's legal team claimed that they made multiple attempts to serve O’Neal over the past few months, emphasizing that the sports star is the only celebrity in the FTX case who has not yet received a complaint. The lawyers said they were standing outside the Atlanta TNT studio — where Shaq is employed as a TV host for “Inside the NBA” show — for a week in hopes to handle him legal documents, but were prevented from doing so by his security.
Other celebrities targeted in the lawsuit include NFL star Tom Brady, his wife and supermodel Gisele Bündchen, comedian Larry David, NBA champion Stephen Curry, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and TV personality Kevin O’Leary.
“The Deceptive FTX Platform maintained by the FTX Entities was truly a house of cards, a Ponzi scheme where the FTX Entities shuffled customer funds between their opaque affiliated entities, using new investor funds obtained through investments in the YBAs [yield bearing accounts] and loans to pay interest to the old ones and to attempt to maintain the appearance of liquidity,” reads the legal brief to the case.
According to Moskovitz, celebrity endorsements were part of FTX’s scheme to raise funds and drive international customers to invest in YBA accounts, so the exchange stays afloat. The lawsuit accuses high-profile endorsers of a failure to perform due diligence and violation of federal security laws.
“Defendants’ misrepresentations and omissions made and broadcast around the globe through the television and internet render them liable to Plaintiff and class members for soliciting their purchases of the unregistered YBAs,” Moskowitz stated.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court of Miami on November 15, seeks $1 billion in damages from nine top endorsers, arguing that they played “a major role in the FTX disaster.”
Dubbed “Shaqtoshi” by FTX for his enthusiastic support of the exchange, Shaq tried to distance himself from a failed company and downplay his endorsement. “A lot of people think I’m involved, but I was just a paid spokesperson for a commercial,” O’Neal told CNBC in an interview after FTX's collapse.
However, in a June commercial for FTX, the basketball star said he was “excited to be partnering with FTX to help make crypto accessible for everyone. I’m all in. Are you?” despite his earlier claims that he doesn’t understand crypto and has declined promotional deals from several crypto entities.