Bitcoin used to be synonymous with drugs but now, celebrities of all stripes are turning on to what used to be the obscure money of choice for the internet’s black markets.
For instance, what if I told you that a certain Grammy-caliber rapper has accepted bitcoin for an album in 2014? 50 Cent did, and he’s just one example of the prestige Bitcoin enjoys among the movers and shakers who are at the center of Western pop culture. Here are a few examples.
Yes, Yeezy himself has taken interest in bitcoin (he also sued a project that created the altcoin Coinye for trademark infringement, but that’s for another story).
One of rap’s most prolific artists and producers, Kanye spoke briefly about Bitcoin in a May 2018 interview with radio personality Charlamagne. He mentioned Bitcoin twice in the interview, the second and most notable time in reference to Harriet Tubman’s becoming the new face of the $20 bill.
“That was the moment that I wanted to use Bitcoin, when I saw Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill,” he said, espousing his belief that society needs to be looking toward the future instead of the past to encourage progress.
Shortly before this interview, West famously tweeted out “decentralize,” a standalone nod to the cryptocurrency industry that its adherents treated like manna sent down from heaven.
Kanye has since remained relatively silent about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, though his tweet and 15 seconds of bitcoin commentary in the 2018 interview have become meme relics for the community.
’90s heartthrob Ashton Kutcher is best known for his roles in That ‘70s Show and Dude, Where’s My Car?, but he’s also one of Bitcoin’s chief proponents among the Hollywood Hills elite.
“I think bitcoins are obviously becoming more and more relevant,” he said in a talk at the 2013 TechCrunch Disrupt Conference.
“The fact that people are hacking bitcoins really hard,” he continued referring to wallet and exchange hacks, “it almost hearkens back to when banks first started and they didn’t have safe safes and people were going into the banks and just robbing money out of the safe. It actually validates the value of the money itself. I think the fact that you can buy drugs and ammo with it actually [validates] the currency itself.”
Of course, Kutcher also donated $4 million worth of XRP to Ellen Degeneres’ wildlife charity fund in 2018, so that might put him on the pooh-pooh list for some toxic maximalists. But notice that he spent XRP while hodling his bitcoin — looks like he might just “get it.”
Captain Kirk’s is reaching for the stars yet again.
While at first a Bitcoin skeptic (he once rhetorically tweeted, “So bit coin is a cyber snob currency…”) the retired Star Trek actor entered the space in the 2017 ICO boom (which, admittedly, has led to some enterprise blockchain fantasies).
He’s a bit of an ETH-head really, but he’s also involved himself with Solar Alliance, a Vancouver-based company which operates a solar-powered bitcoin mining farm in Illinois.
Surprisingly, most of the celebrities on this list became interested in bitcoin during the first big hype cycle in 2013 to 2014. Michelle Phan, though, is a new initiate — or, at the very least, she’s recently come out as a bitcoin supporter.
“This is why bitcoin and crypto and decentralization is the next wave. It’s the most important evolution of the internet,” the YouTube Influencer and makeup entrepreneur said recently on the “Off the Pill” podcast.
When she’s not building her multimillion dollar makeup empire, she’ll drop the occasional tidbit about bitcoin on Twitter or other social media platforms.
The Baddest Man on the Planet — and former heavyweight boxing champion of the world — is a bitcoiner.
Tyson launched his own line of bitcoin ATMs in Las Vegas in 2015. The name of the ATM line is Mike Tyson Bitcoin (maybe he forgot to hire a marketing team), each unit of which is aptly branded with his famous facial tattoo.
“People don’t really understand a currency based on numerical equations. I personally still don’t … but I’m grateful to be a part of the revolution and hoping that my participation in this space will lead to more conversations and help increase knowledge and awareness,” he told CoinDesk in a 2015 interview.
The godfather of skateboarding has been “riding [bitcoin] for 6 years,” he revealed in a 2019 reply tweet asking if it’d be fun to ride the most recent price rise.
“Haven’t bailed yet,” the king of vert wrote in the tweet.
His nonprofit, the Tony Hawk Foundation, accepts bitcoin as well.
When he’s not building the future, Elon Musk might be getting sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or talking about anime girls — or talking about bitcoin (OR, as in an especially unique cases, combining bitcoin with anime girls … seriously).
The futurist has publicly stated that he doesn’t own more than 0.25 bitcoin. But maybe that’s just good op-sec. He certainly buys into the concept of cryptocurrency, having called Bitcoin’s design “brilliant” in an ARK Invest podcast with the firm’s CEO, Cathie Wood.
“Paper money is going away. And crypto is a far better way to transfer values than a piece of paper, that’s for sure,” he said during the podcast.
LA Chargers left tackle has recently become a darling of the Bitcoin community for his passionate advocacy of the currency.
Making something of his virtual debut into the space, he famously (well, famously among us, anyway) requested on Twitter to have his salary paid in bitcoin.
Of course, he made this request in person as well, to which the Charger’s money guy responded “What the hell is bitcoin?” When I interviewed him back in September, he said that he’s tried to win over management multiple times and will keep trying.
That’s the kind of indefatigable resolve you might expect from a top-tier athlete. Since making his love of bitcoin public, Okung has dived deep. On September 1, 2019, he held the inaugural Bitcoin Is_ event, a “revival,” he told me, which he hopes will have numerous incarnations to increase adoption and awareness.
“Bitcoin feels like a renaissance, the great awakening or enlightenment, and that’s what we’re trying to capture,” he said in the interview.
Adding to an already lucrative career, renowned rapper 50 Cent accidently made millions in bitcoin — by selling an album for the cryptocurrency, holding it and forgetting about it.
His 2014 album, Animal Ambition, garnered the rap star 700 bitcoin. Just before bitcoin’s value began to deflate at the beginning of 2018 following the 2017 bull run, this sum was worth just north of $7 million.
In a since deleted tweet (probably erased for security reasons), he celebrated the accidental hodl. “Not bad for a kid from the South Side,” he wrote at the time.
Nasir Jones, better known by his rap pen name Nas, dropped the rap act to begin a new life as a Silicon Valley tech VC.
In 2014, when bitcoin was San Fran’s hot new thing, this included investing in a startup called Coinbase. He learned about bitcoin through Andreesen Horowitz Co-Founder Ben Horowitz.“[Bitcoin] will evolve into an industry as big, if not bigger, than the internet. My man Ben Horowitz really opened my eyes to that point. This isn’t of the internet age, bitcoin is its own age,” he said in an interview at the time.