A bombshell interview alleges that Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the collapsed crypto exchange FTX, considered paying Donald Trump $5 billion so he would refrain from running for president again in 2024.
The stunning claim was made by famed financial author Michael Lewis in a podcast interview published this week. Lewis, known for books like “The Big Short” and “Flash Boys,” said he discussed the idea of paying off Trump directly with Bankman-Fried.
“$5 billion was the number that was kicking around. And the number that was kicking around when I was talking to Sam about this was $5 billion,” Lewis stated. He said Bankman-Fried was unsure whether Trump had actually signed off on the $5 billion figure.
Per Lewis, Bankman-Fried also questioned the legality of paying a candidate not to run. But the young FTX founder saw Trump as an “existential risk” whose return to power threatened democracy.
Representatives for Donald Trump have not commented on the report. But if confirmed, the notion of Bankman-Fried attempting to induce Trump to abandon his White House ambitions would mark a brazen move to influence an election.
Critics suggest the idea epitomizes Bankman-Fried’s willingness to leverage wealth and power with minimal oversight. Along with FTX’s collapse, it may strengthen the case for stricter political donation regulations on billionaires funneling money into campaigns.
For Trump, the reported $5 billion overture represents both a validation of his perceived electoral potency and another controversy as he embarks on his 2024 run. It also raises speculation around whether Trump or any associates entertained the supposed FTX payment.
While shocking, the account aligns with Bankman-Fried’s stated views. The FTX founder claimed preventing pandemics and “sound governance” were among his top priorities. But his ability to unilaterally finance those goals now appears less certain.
As Bankman-Fried confronts fraud charges related to FTX’s failure, his reported scheme to pay off Trump exemplifies his unconventional philosophy of effective altruism gone awry. Instead of being remembered as an advocate of ethics, his legacy may be that of a privately-empowered kingmaker whose reach disastrously exceeded his grasp.