It was less than a week ago that a blundering group of cryptocurrency investors were mired in a carnival of chaos that could only occur in Trump World.
Their “Let’s Go Brandon” crypto coin had crashed and the ringleader behind it was on the brink of filing a lawsuit against several players involved with the token, including NASCAR, the owner of a professional racing team, and a prominent media executive.
Among the more colorful allegations outlined in a draft of the complaint, which The Daily Beast obtained: The ringleader claimed that the token’s website had been defaced, its contents replaced with the word “penis.”
Now, with the drama-filled week in the past, some of those players want to team up once more.
In a deal hammered out in Miami this week, the group agreed to launch a new digital currency tied to the anti-Biden “Let’s Go Brandon slogan”—though some outside observers are skeptical of the plan.
The agreement was forged in part by the media executive James Heckman, representatives of the NASCAR racer Brandon Brown, and LGB’s former de facto leader, the Trumpy hedge funder James Koutoulas. Holders of the old coin will automatically be granted new tokens, Koutoulas said, adding that the new coin will have stricter contract controls to prevent insiders from selling large portions of their shares.
“It’s like Taylor Swift getting back with her boyfriend,” he said, of the reunification.
As The Daily Beast detailed earlier this month, the initial iteration of the Let’s Go Brandon token (also known as LGB) was inspired by the slogan itself, which went viral last year following a NASCAR event won by driver Brandon Brown. In an interview after the race, the crowd had loudly chanted “Fuck Joe Biden,” a message an NBC reporter incorrectly conveyed as “Let’s go, Brandon.”
The token reached a market value of more than $570 million amid reports that it would become the official sponsor of Brown’s racing team. A NASCAR employee allegedly signed off on the agreement before the company reversed course and blocked the deal, helping tank the token’s price. (A NASCAR communications official didn't return a request for comment.)
Last week, Koutoulas alleged in an interview with The Daily Beast that major coin holders had fueled the decline by rapidly selling large volumes of tokens.
He said he first became aware of the sell-off in January while at conservative billionaire Peter Thiel’s house, where he was having dinner with Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and three other players in the crypto world.
Ensconced in Thiel’s bathroom, Koutoulas frantically bought $70,000 worth of LGB tokens on his phone, intending to stabilize the coin’s price. “That’s just how much Ethereum I have laying around,” he said.
The effort failed.
Soon after, Koutoulas claimed, other key coin holders attempted to have him purged from the venture to launch their own LGB “copycat.” (He said he then developed plans to launch his own, new iteration of LGB as well.)
Two of those former adversaries, who both declined to speak on the record, told a different story, claiming that Koutoulas’ opponents fled the project due to his political antagonism.
Despite the origin of the “Let’s Go Brandon” slogan, one of them claimed, the coin’s other prominent backers were against antagonizing President Biden. “Guys hanging out in Puerto Rico don’t want to antagonize the government. It’s the opposite,” the person said, referring to investors who live there.
Indeed, Koutoulas has not been shy about his right-wing opinions. One photograph on his Instagram page shows him beaming next to Trump Jr. In another post, he is holding an oversized cutout of Chinese President Xi Jinping along with a blow-up doll of Joe Biden.
Koutoulas said he views the mission of the Let’s Go Brandon movement as protecting liberty, preventing de-platforming for anti-establishment viewpoints (as with the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” truckers whose GoFundMe donations were refunded), and attempting to reestablish “truth” in the media. It is not entirely clear how a digital token would achieve those ends.
Some Trumpworld stars nonetheless rallied around the initial coin, including Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), who expressed hope for the coin to “go to the moon!” (a common saying in the world of cryptocurrency, equivalent to cheering for a fast spike in share value.)
Evidently, the potential to join forces on a unified cryptocurrency project—and potentially make huge sums of money—trumped political divides between the coin’s major backers.
One outside observer, crypto attorney David Silver, has already expressed skepticism about any attempt to repackage LGB, telling The Daily Beast earlier this month that “the free market has already said this is a coin that has no value.”
Another lawyer and expert in the space, Stephen Palley, said that so-called “meme coins” are an inherently risky asset class that trade “on emotion and group psychology.”
He said many tokens like LGB have plummeted, while others have somehow amassed market capitalizations well into the billions of dollars.
“Take Dogecoin, take Shiba Inu. Those things have questionable functional utility,” Palley said. “I swear to God, there's something called the Dick Butt token.”
The question with the LGB redux, as with any token, is whether average investors choose to believe that it is valuable. If they do, they may get burned—again.