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For the past eight years that Logan Paul has been in the public consciousness, he’s been many things: a Vine turned YouTube star; an online influencer; a boxer; and a seemingly endless source of social media controversy. But recently, Paul has been diving deeper into an unexpected part of his brand: digital currency entrepreneur.
He has 100 NFTs (nonfungible tokens) for which he’s invested more than $4 million; he has multiple cryptocurrency projects in development (including CryptoZoo, a digital zoo where users can breed, collect and trade exotic hybrid animals as NFTs that was delayed after some initial criticism); and he has become a prominent figure in the Pokemon collector world after loving the game since childhood — now owning a Charizard card he says is worth $1 million (after buying it for $150,000).
“They gave a kid who loves collecting [things] money, and now I get the freedom to make the purchases that I couldn’t as a kid,” Paul says, adding that he has “historically chosen the right things to invest in.” Those investments include memorabilia and collectibles company Goldin Auctions (through a group including Mark Cuban and Kevin Durant that purchased a majority stake for $40 million), Bitcoin rewards app Lolli and collectibles marketplace Whatnot.
“I’m using my creativity for business and investments now instead of media, and it’s working,” he says, after amassing 23 million YouTube subscribers and another 21 million on Instagram.
Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions, offers a look at just how Paul is leveraging his platforms after they collaborated on a livestreamed box break of first-edition Pokemon cards in the spring. Paul auctioned off 36 card packs with a starting bid of $10,000 each and, after driving traffic to the auction via his socials, averaged $34,000 per pack, “which was the most expensive Pokemon box ever sold,” says Goldin. Paul spent about $300,000 on the box and netted $1.2 million. “Being the businessman he is, he inserted NFT commercials inside the two-hour box break, which was on his YouTube,” adds Goldin. The NFT sales reportedly were more than $800,000 during that stream, which followed Paul selling nearly 3,000 NFTs for a total of $5 million in February.
O’Melveny legal and business adviser Hale Boggs says digital currency soared during the pandemic as life went virtual, and hasn’t seen a drop as in-person activities have returned. “A lot of people who liked to support their favorite celebrities or artists through events and experiences found that the only way they could do that was through virtual events and experiences,” says Boggs. “That allowed for a transition [to] virtual products and goods and tokens.”
Adds Paul’s longtime manager Jeff Levin, “Logan’s really good at understanding [the landscape] and then figuring out a way to monetize it but also first and foremost entertain people.” And he has continued to entertain, still landing millions of views on his videos and facing off against Floyd Mayweather in the ring June 6 while also building his digital portfolio.
Paul says his income is so diversified that social media, boxing and investing are each producing equal revenue streams at this point. So if he quit any one area, he could just shift to the others. Which, given his controversial track record (including late 2017-early 2018 videos involving Japan’s “suicide forest,” tasering dead rats and joking about eating Tide Pods), he knows is beneficial, particularly in the business world, where he can be behind the scenes.
“In the past, I’ve been polarizing, so why don’t I do something I’m good at elsewhere that doesn’t rely on me being a public-facing figure?” Paul says of his strategy, admitting that most business partners and advisers are afraid to work with him. “I’m risky — but I’m not, that’s the thing. I win more than I lose in this space.”
Says lawyer Adam Kaller, who has represented Paul alongside Duncan Hedges since his Vine days: “He’s put himself in the crosshairs of some pretty ugly situations, but the vast majority of decisions that he makes are great decisions. He sees these subtleties that other people don’t see, and he knows how to craft them and manipulate them and exploit them.”
Paul teases that some of the biggest purchases in collectibles history are still to be announced this year as he continues to carve a niche in the online world. “I have a million-dollar Pokemon card, right? It’s cool, but as a storyteller, it’s much cooler if I tell the story about how I got that card and what I’m going to do with it,” he says. “My ability to combine storytelling, culture and investments has created this perfect synergy for me, both publicly and privately.”
While many in the digital currency space are looking to ride an overnight purchase to the moon, Paul is in it for the long haul when it comes to his NFTs and cards. “I’m a collector. I will be holding most of these assets for probably five, 10, 15 years, maybe more,” he says. “Everything I do is always a risk, but for lack of better verbiage, I have big balls when it comes to investing my money.”
This story first appeared in the Nov. 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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