We Asked New Yorkers if They’d Heard of Sam Bankman-Fried

To some, Sam Bankman-Fried’s impending trial is one of the biggest stories in recent news, but to many New Yorkers, the name does not strike a chord.

The FTX founder, who has pleaded not guilty to charges including wire fraud and conspiracy, will go on trial next week in a New York City federal courtroom. The jury for the case will consist of 12 randomly selected New York State residents and two alternates.​​ CoinDesk spoke with several pedestrians in Manhattan’s Financial District to understand what this group could look like.

Many of these random New Yorkers suggested that they would need a better understanding of the digital asset space and Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency empire to be confident in their judgment. A majority declined to be interviewed for this article and video, claiming that they were not familiar with the story, and some even expressed distaste for the topic.

One pedestrian, when asked if they were interested in crypto, replied back “no, nor do I have any interest in anyone involved in it.”

Another person, Lucy Rafter – a law student originally from Ireland – admitted that she doesn’t know anything about crypto.

“It’s like a new fad,” she said. “I’d need to learn everything from scratch.”

On the other hand, Haseeb Khurram, a visitor from overseas who claimed to have “at least $7,000” stuck in the bankrupt exchange, has strong opinions about the upcoming trial.

“He should be guilty and he deserves what is coming for him,” he said.

An outlier from the interviewees was Jared Blikre, a seasoned reporter and anchor at Yahoo Finance.

The collapse of FTX reminded him of the MF Global bankruptcy in 2011, “but it’s about 10 times worse,” the finance veteran said. However, Blikre doubted that he would be selected for the jury given his expertise. “I know a little bit too much.”

Attorneys for the Department of Justice and Bankman-Fried’s defense filed their questions for possible jurors earlier this month, which they hope will gauge if those who could be selected are familiar with the case, the cryptocurrency industry or the “effective altruism” philosophy that Bankman-Fried championed.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

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