Actor Matt Damon briefly became the face of cryptocurrencies with his “history is filled with almosts” commercial for the digital currencies exchange Crypto.com. Despite crypto’s ballooning prices in 2021, after the collapse of several major exchanges and lenders in 2022 the entire industry is feeling more like an “almost” day by day. Now the movie star finally offered some belated insight into why he felt the need to shill for the massive speculative market that is crypto, and it’s about as limp an excuse as you could expect.
On Wednesday, AP shared a short interview with Damon where the Good Will Hunting and The Martian star said “we had a down year in Water.org” referring to the nonprofit he co-founded that gives out micro-financing for people looking to access clean water and sanitation. He awkwardly laughs as he adds “and I did that commercial in an attempt to raise money for Water.org.”
Damon said he gave his “whole salary” to Water.org, apparently referring to the money he made from acting in the commercial, and added Crypto.com donated $1 million to the nonprofit. “I have a lot of gratitude for what they did for our foundation,” he added.
The Cypto.com ad was featured at the 2022 Super Bowl once dubbed the “crypto bowl” for how many crypto companies bought ad spots at the big game. Crypto.com also aired another commercial featuring LeBron James and a CGI version of himself along with that “fortune favors the brave” tagline. Both ads were part of the exchange’s reported $100 million global marketing scheme.
The year the Singapore-based Crypto.com aired the commercial it was sitting pretty at a time crypto was still booming. It bought out the naming rights to the L.A. Staples Stadium, the home of the LA Lakers. It remains unclear how much Damon was paid for the ad, though Bloomberg reported in October of 2021 that Crypto.com had indeed made the Water.org donation and that Damon was an investor in the crypto company. Damon told the outlet he was “hoping this is the beginning of a great long-term collaboration.” Bloomberg reported at the time the crypto company was also tagging in other celebrities like MMA star Ronda Rousey and retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to be brand ambassadors.
After the start of the 2022 crypto winter, Crypto.com reportedly laid off 40% of its staff despite initially claiming it had laid off just 260 employees, or 5% of the workforce. In January, the company axed another 20% of its global staff. CEO Kris Marszalek tweeted that day “I recognize we have a lot of work to do to help restore trust in the industry. It will take time, but we will get it done.”
Damon has been raked for appearing in the commercial, staggering around zombie-like as he proclaims the best way to be “brave” is to throw money into a highly volatile, still-unregulated market. Many of those who bought into bitcoin at the time the ad aired would have lost a good deal of money just a year later. That most people who invest in crypto inevitably lose money has become a regulatory refrain as of late.