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Sam Bankman-Fried backtracks from $1 billion political donation quote

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Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and chief executive officer of FTX Cryptocurrency Derivatives Exchange, speaks throughout the Institute of International Finance (IIF) annual membership meeting in Washington, DC, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022.

Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is backing down from a previous comment suggesting he could spend $1 billion or more in races from now through the 2024 election.

In May, the 30-year-old said on the Pushkin Industries podcast, “What’s Your Problem,” that he expected to offer “north of $100 million” in the following presidential election and had a “soft ceiling” of $1 billion. In an interview with Politico’s Morning Money this week, nevertheless, the founding father of the worldwide cryptocurrency exchange FTX called it a “dumb quote.”

“I believe my messaging was form of sloppy and inconsistent in some cases,” continued Bankman-Fried, who also founded trading firm Alameda Research.

As a substitute, Bankman-Fried has reportedly invested around $40 million in political motion committees and campaigns this 12 months within the run-up to midterm elections, with most of that cash going to Democratic candidates. The FTX CEO has been the driving force behind the Protect Our Future PAC, which has raised greater than $28 million to date — and will move the needle in upcoming House races.

But for now, Bankman-Fried is hitting pause on his political campaign spending, telling Politico that, “In some unspecified time in the future, while you’ve given your message to voters, there’s just not a complete lot more you possibly can do.”

“You’ll be able to spend more time on it, and more messaging, extra money, more anything, [but] you are not accomplishing anything more,” the FTX CEO told Politico.

The crypto market has tanked since Bankman-Fried first pledged to spend tons of of thousands and thousands of dollars earlier this 12 months.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, is down greater than 50% within the last six months, and over 70% since hitting its all-time high in Nov. 2021. Meanwhile, the crypto market as a complete went from a market cap of around $3 trillion lower than a 12 months ago, to lower than $1 trillion today.

For his part, Bankman-Fried has been spending quite a lot of money the previous couple of months to prop up the digital asset industry throughout the 2022 crypto winter. The quant trader-turned-CEO has bailed out multiple crypto firms to guard against a wider contagion effect across the sector, and Bankman-Fried told CNBC in September that FTX still has one other $1 billion to deploy.

Bankman-Fried was also thinking about helping to fund Elon Musk’s proposed takeover of Twitter, in line with personal text messages that were released recently as a part of Twitter’s lawsuit to force Musk to finish the deal. At one point, the billionaire was able to commit as much as $8 billion, in line with a message to Musk from Bankman-Fried’s “collaborator,” professor Will MacAskill. Nonetheless, he never made a proper offer, in line with reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. regulators and politicians have been increasingly turning their attention to crypto policy in recent months, as a spate of bankruptcies and crypto bank runs have eroded confidence within the emerging asset class.

Last month, for instance, the Biden White House released its first-ever framework on what crypto regulation within the U.S. should appear to be — including ways to crack down on fraud within the digital asset space.

— CNBC’s Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.

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