Eight High-Profile Crypto Enthusiasts in Miami for 2022 Bitcoin Conference

Eight notable speakers speaking at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami Beach this week.
Eight notable speakers speaking at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami Beach this week. Photos by Dia Dipasupil, Andrew Toth, Del Rio, Dave Kotinsky, Stephanie Keith, Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images, Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons, Zach Catanzareti Photo/Flickr
A U.S. senator, an NFL quarterback, and a prominent anti-vaxx influencer walk into a convention center.

No, this isn't a punch line — it's Bitcoin 2022.

From Wednesday, April 6, to Saturday, April 9, thousands of cryptocurrency enthusiasts will pour into the Miami Beach Convention Center to watch crypto-adjacent folks speak about the past, present, and future of digital currency. The event — billed as the "world's largest bitcoin gathering" — will take place only a few miles across Biscayne Bay from Miami Mayor Francis Suarez's wannabe-crypto capital of the world.

Hundreds of speakers from around the world, a number of whom boast Twitter profile photos with laser-beam eyes, are slated to appear. Here are eight notable names on the lengthy lineup, listed in alphabetical order.

Kevin O'Leary

The Shark Tank star and Canadian businessman better known as "Mr. Wonderful" called bitcoin "garbage" in a May 2019 interview with CNBC. But it seems he has since changed his tune, having invested millions of dollars in bitcoin and a handful of other digital currencies. He told CNBC last month that he has allocated 20 percent of his investment portfolio to cryptocurrency.

While in town, he has already visited the sparkly new luxe Asian restaurant Sexy Fish in Brickell.

O'Leary is scheduled to speak at the "Kevin O'Leary Keynote" at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6.

Yeonmi Park

Park, who fled North Korea at age 13 and reportedly fell into the hands of human traffickers shortly after, has dedicated her life to being a vocal human-rights activist. In her push for human rights in North Korea, she has repeatedly expressed her belief that digital currencies like bitcoin could help empower North Koreans and allow them to "take power back from the government," posting YouTube videos titled "Can Bitcoin Free North Koreans?" and "Bitcoin and North Korea."

Park is scheduled to speak at the "Bitcoin Is Freedom" panel at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 7.

Jordan Peterson

The controversial Canadian psychologist and author — whose YouTube sermons have become popular among young, white men — is an investor in bitcoin. He has talked about crypto a few times on his podcast, The Jordan B. Peterson Podcast, including last May when he invited four bitcoin enthusiasts on the show, and again last September, when he discussed the digital currency with Saifedean Ammous, author of The Bitcoin Standard.

Following his conversation with Ammous, Peterson reportedly "learned a lot" and invested even more money in the currency. "Bought some more bitcoin. Inflation be damned," Peterson tweeted in November.

Peterson is scheduled to speak at the "Jordan Peterson Fireside" panel at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9.
click to enlarge Dave Portnoy - PHOTO BY ZACH CATANZARETI PHOTO/FLICKR
Dave Portnoy
Photo by Zach Catanzareti Photo/Flickr

Dave Portnoy

The promise of cryptocurrency appears to have grown on a number of people — including Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy, who once likened bitcoin to a "Ponzi scheme." Since then, Portnoy has admitted to coming around to the concept of decentralized digital currencies, which he believes are "here to stay," and has invested $1 million in bitcoin.

Portnoy is scheduled to speak at the "Bitcoin Is F*ck You Money" panel at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 7.

Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers quarterback — who made headlines last year for misleading people about his COVID-19 vaccination status — partnered with the money-transfer service Cash App in a bitcoin giveaway worth $1 million and accepted a portion of his multimillion-dollar 2021 salary in bitcoin. He praised the currency in a tweet: "I believe in bitcoin and the future is bright."

Though Rodgers is listed as a "confirmed speaker" on the Bitcoin Conference site, it's not clear when he will take to the podium.

Fortunately for Rodgers, there appear to be no COVID-19 restrictions for the event.

Anthony Scaramucci

In the years since he was booted from his notorious 11-day gig as President Trump's director of communications, Anthony Scaramucci (AKA "the Mooch") has begun drinking the crypto Kool-Aid, transforming into a full-time crypto enthusiast. As founder of Skybridge Capital, a New York City-based global investment firm that began investing in bitcoin two years ago, Scaramucci recently predicted that the price of bitcoin will reach $100,000 by 2024. (Some investors predict it might even happen sooner.)

Though Scaramucci is listed as a "confirmed speaker" on the Bitcoin Conference site, it's not clear when he will speak. 

Peter Thiel

The tech billionaire, conservative political donor, and venture capitalist who cofounded PayPal has praised the concept of cryptocurrency. He recently admitted that his biggest mistake in the last decade was "getting too late and too little into bitcoin." Speaking during a tech event at the Perez Art Museum last year, Thiel emphasized that bitcoin is "the canary in the coal mine" and "the most honest market we have in the country.”

Thiel is scheduled to speak at the "Peter Thiel Keynote" at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7. 

Andrew Yang

Over the last few years, the former U.S. presidential candidate has latched onto the promise of cryptocurrency, even vowing last year to transform New York City into a "bitcoin hub" if he was elected mayor. (He wasn't.) Some have suggested that Yang is the "highest-profile politician to embrace" the crypto cause.

Last month, on the one-year anniversary of the deadly Atlanta spa shooting, Yang launched GoldenDAO, a "decentralized autonomous organization" (DAO) that intends to advocate for Asian-American and Pacific Islander issues through memberships sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), priced upward of $3,000. (For the uninitiated, NFTs are digital assets whose authenticity and ownership are verified via a tamper-proof network of computers — the blockchain — that meticulously tracks transactions and sales.)

Yang is scheduled to speak at the "Overcoming Idea Inertia Panel" at 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, April 7.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alex DeLuca is a staff writer at Miami New Times.
Contact: Alex DeLuca