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Investigating Miss Universe Coin
At a press conference at Philippine Blockchain Week 2023 earlier this month, the organizers declared that Miss Universe — the global beauty pageant that until 2015 had been co-owned by Donald Trump — was going to launch its own cryptocurrency later on at the event. Dubbed “Miss Universe Gold Coin,” the currency would be backed by gold, and offer an array of benefits for tokenholders, including voting rights for the pageant itself. Its promoters promised that it would “outshine” the well-known memecoin $SHIB, noting that the $DOGE clone grew by 80,000% at its all-time-high.
To be clear, the MU Gold Coin wasn’t actually “launched” in PBW, it was merely “announced.” Interested buyers couldn’t acquire the token during the event because it hadn’t been issued yet. This was a good thing! From a marketing standpoint, the difference between “announced” and “launched” might seem small, but from a regulatory standpoint, it’s the difference between an SEC warning and an SEC fine. Why? Because the MUGC, as described by its creators, meets all the basic criteria of an unregistered security, and if they had actually launched it at PBW, the cease & desist order from the SEC would have arrived on their doorstep at lightning speed. (For an example of a foreign entity receiving a warning from the Philippine SEC, see this news from earlier this year regarding the Winklevoss twins’ perfectly legitimate Gemini exchange.)
Now, promising that your yet-to-be-launched token was going to outshine a $4.3B marketcap token like $SHIB is Wolf-of-Wall-Street-level brinkmanship. The total marketcap of Miss Universe’s Thailand-based parent company JKN Global Group is only $33M, so the idea that the token of one of its sub-brands could outstrip its progenitor by 1300x during the longest bear market we’ve ever seen is farfetched, to say the least. The speaker who presented this keynote was Vincent Song of XT.com, a little-known crypto exchange. It’s not entirely clear what XT’s role is in all this, although based on their business line, one could infer that they would have been the primary sales channel for the coin … assuming it ever launched.
But, of course, there’s more! The following week, JKN Global Group posted on social media denying any association or involvement with the Miss Universe Coin project. They emphatically urged their fans not to support this “falsely-named coin scam,” and stated that they were doing everything they could to shut it down. Reactions online ranged from confusion to derision, with quite a few comments taking aim squarely at the Philippines as a hotbed for crypto scams. Caught in the crossfire was Michelle Dee, the current Miss Universe Philippines. She flatly denied having any involvement with the MU Coin project and clarified that her own recently-announced crypto project was an NFT collection focusing on autism awareness.
Shortly thereafter, a new player entered the arena with a surprising opener: their name was TCG Social Media Group and they were preparing a lawsuit against JKN Global Group for falsely claiming that JKN had no involvement in MU Coin. In fact, the two companies had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on this very project. JKN quickly fired back that the MoU strictly prohibited any announcements … a response that somewhat weakened their earlier statement that this was a “falsely-named coin scam” given that, apparently, it was theirs.
Two quick digressions. First: TCG Social Media Group is a Thai influencer agency, and it is puzzling that a crypto project called “Miss Universe” would need help from third-party influencers to promote its coin. The live broadcast of the pageant regularly draws over 3M viewers — surely social media reach is the one thing that the Miss Universe organization doesn’t need help with? Second: apparently, the “TCG” in “TCG Social Media Group” stands for “Thai Cute Girl.” Yeah, I couldn’t quite believe it either.
If you’re having trouble keeping everything straight in your head: The 70-year-old Miss Universe organization entered into a non-binding MoU to promote its eponymous cryptocurrency with an agency called Thai Cute Girl, who then enlisted the Seychelles-based exchange XT to prematurely announce the token at a Philippine event and claim that they would outperform the second-best dog coin in the world. And here we thought that crypto was gonna be boring this month.
At this point, the odds that Miss Universe Gold Coin will ever launch are probably close to zero. JKN and TCG have burned their bridges in a very public fashion, and everyone involved has learned a lesson in pre-launch coordination. There is still the issue of promoting an unregistered security and promising massive returns at a public Philippine venue — which I honestly think was the more egregious part of this entire debacle — but perhaps we’ll leave that for the next awards season.
Stay safe out there, cryptofam!