The Effect of Celebrity Endorsements on Crypto

72 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2023 Last revised: 17 Apr 2023

See all articles by Joshua T. White

Joshua T. White

Vanderbilt University - Finance

Sean Wilkoff

University of Nevada, Reno

Date Written: April 14, 2023


We study the relation between celebrity endorsements of cryptocurrencies and their outcomes. We use initial coin offerings (ICOs) of utility tokens as a laboratory to control for heterogeneity across blockchain products. Celebrity endorsements have a substitute relation with ICO pre-sales, but increase ex-ante success, resulting in more funds raised and a greater exchange listings. We find no evidence that celebrity-endorsed ICOs have greater ex-post success and link them to red flags such as a higher likelihood of scams. We identify specific properties of celebrities' social media endorsements driving these results. Our findings highlight the need for investors and celebrities to better understand the risks of cryptocurrencies and to conduct due diligence before endorsing or investing in digital assets.

Keywords: Celebrities, Promotions, Endorsements, Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, Initial Coin Offerings, Digital Assets

JEL Classification: G12, G14, G41

Suggested Citation

White, Joshua T. and Wilkoff, Sean, The Effect of Celebrity Endorsements on Crypto (April 14, 2023). Available at SSRN: or

Joshua T. White (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Finance ( email )

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Sean Wilkoff

University of Nevada, Reno ( email )

1664 N. Virginia St
Reno, NV 89557
United States

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