Updated Dec 16, 2022 - Economy

Trump allies blast crypto announcement after FTX collapse

Animated illustration of an ornate frame with falling dollar signs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Former President Trump's "major announcement" this week that turned out to be $99 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has made him the target of ridicule from some of his most ardent supporters.

The big picture: The announcement launched a swift round of criticism across the right-wing media landscape — with Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn calling on Trump to fire the person behind the decision.

  • "I can't watch it again, make it stop," Bannon said on his podcast. "Anybody on the comms team and anybody at Mar-a-Lago — and I love the folks down there — but we’re at war. They oughta be fired today."
  • On Twitter, radio host and Trump supporter John Cardillo blasted the NFT drop, calling it "beyond wrong" in the wake of FTX's collapse, and crypto's winter. "Who advised him to do this?" he added.
  • "Whoever advised him on that, I'd fire him them immediately," Flynn said on a show streamed on the conservative video hosting platform Rumble.
  • Baked Alaska, a far-right media personality who has pleaded guilty to unlawfully protesting at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, tweeted: "i can’t believe i'm going to jail for an nft salesman."

The latest: The collection of 45,000 NFTs sold out on Friday, the website said. They start at 0.17 ethereum — about $200 — on the secondary market, according to OpenSea.

Between the lines: However garish you might have pictured a Trump line of NFTs could be — even after he declared another presidential campaign — these are more garish than that.

  • The former commander-in-chief declared that "AMERICA NEEDS A SUPERHERO" (all caps his).

What's happening: On Wednesday, Trump posted to Truth Social that he had a "major announcement," which trended on social media.

  • It turned out to be a line of NFTs at a time when the market for those digital assets has been decimated amid a staggering cryptocurrency rout.

Of note: There's no mention of Trump's campaign in any of the materials. The bottom of the NFTs' website indicates that Trump's likeness is used under license: an entity called "NFT INT LLC" holds the copyright to all content.

  • It says: "NFT INT LLC is not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Digital LLC or any of their respective principals or affiliates."

In the weeds: The NFTs can be purchased with dollars, or wrapped ether (WETH). They are hosted on the Polygon blockchain, though the website hasn't published the contract address yet.

  • There will be 45,000 trading cards, and 44,000 will go on sale. Buyers who go directly to the site won't know what NFT they are getting till after they purchase (or "mint," in NFT lingo).
  • Twitter testimony seems to indicate it's been a pretty buggy process.
  • Buyers who want to pick can go straight to OpenSea and buy on the secondary market, and 10% of the purchase price will go back to the issuer.

Flashback: This offering is something of an about-face, and in Trump's case there's always a prior (contradictory) tweet.

  • On July 11, 2019, the then-president tweeted, "I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air."

Editor's note: This article was updated to note the NFTs sold out.

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