SBF's New Hot Commodity: Prison Rice

Vegan inmate gives jailhouse interview about adjusting to life behind bars
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 4:04 PM CDT
Rice Is Bankman-Fried's New Currency in Prison
FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court, June 15, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

Sam Bankman-Fried is speaking from his new living accommodations at the Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn, vis a vis an interview he gave to William D. Cohan of Puck. Cohan wasn't allowed recording devices, pen, or paper during the 75-minute interview with the founder of crypto exchange FTX, but the gist is this:

  • On his wrongdoing in FTX's downfall: SBF doesn't think he's culpable, so much as he allowed the company to become overly exposed. He plans an appeal. "I got the distinct impression that Sam still doesn't believe he committed any crimes, only that he was the one responsible for putting FTX in a position where it was vulnerable to a bank run," writes Cohan. SBF is serving a 25-year term for defrauding investors.

  • Prison food: Bankman-Fried is vegan, and apparently MDC's vegan offerings smell like "s---," according to his fellow inmates. This leads SBF to purchase beans and bags of rice from the prison commissary; the latter is described as now "one of the currencies of the realm." Cohan estimates that SBF's new diet regimen has led him to shed about 25 pounds.
  • His accommodations: Bankman-Fried is housed in a dorm with 35 men; he says that many are convicted murderers who turned state's evidence, but that he does not "fear for his safety" and has not been physically harmed. He does, however, get harassed a bit about "those bags of rice, which they intend to use to barter."
More from the interview here, in which Cohan notes that SBF "looked me in the eye pretty much the whole time, something he rarely did with people in the old days." (SBF investors will get their original money back.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.