Hall of Flame – Cointelegraph Magazine
From childhood dreams of becoming a rapper to serving in the United States Marines, to now being “the pro-XRP lawyer” on Crypto Twitter, John Deaton has had an eventful life.
While his dream of becoming a rapper didn’t work out, John Deaton’s 260,000 Twitter following would make many up-and-coming rappers envious.
“That was about 10 years before Eminem came out — I didn’t have that level of school,” Deaton says of his music biz dreams.
He has become a legend among the XRP army over the past couple of years, fighting in their corner after the United States Securities and Exchange Commission sued Ripple, alleging it had issued unregistered securities.
Deaton has a strong belief that the “innocent holders” of XRP deserve a knight in shining armor standing up for them in the same way Ripple has a squad of lawyers fighting for the company.
“I was butting heads with the Ripple lawyers… with what they should be doing to protect individuals, but the Ripple lawyers are protecting Garlinghouse and other executives at Ripple.”
Deaton put out a call on Twitter and gathered 76,000 signatures from XRP holders worldwide to let Deaton represent the XRP community in court.
“They all joined on a form wanting to be heard in the lawsuit, essentially, saying, ‘Yes, you can speak and advocate for me,’” he says.
“Seventy-six thousand people, 143 countries; from Afghanistan, Russia, Ukraine, Australia, Zimbabwe, and of the 76,000, 52% are from the United States.”
What led to Twitter fame?
Deaton’s fame grew as he offered an informed legal take on what can often be opaque and confusing legal maneuvering in the court case. It certainly helps that he’s usually pretty optimistic about Ripple’s chances of beating the charges. His follower count has shot up exponentially ever since he was granted permission by U.S. District Court Judge Analisa Torres to write a brief on behalf of XRP holders in March 2021, collecting anywhere between 3,000 to 20,000 each month since then.
Deaton’s feed about the case helped him break the 250,000-follower milestone on Twitter — and it’s clear from the coverage that he generates he’s followed by many crypto journalists, too.
What to expect on his Twitter
“A lot of my content is about the war on crypto,” Deaton says, while also sprinkling his spicy thoughts on government regulation and throwing shade at the SEC from time to time, too.
But of course, Deaton is best known for his aggressive support for XRP, to the extent that many people think he’s actually representing XRP. Funny thing is, he’s more of a Bitcoin and Ethereum guy.
“When I started off, a lot of people called me the ‘XRP attorney.’ The reality is, XRP was a small investment for me; I was 10 times more into Bitcoin and four times more into Ethereum.”
Strong beef: SEC
The SEC spat the dummy in a 2021 court filing regarding Deaton’s mock cross-examination of then-SEC Chairman Jay Clayton in a YouTube video.
Deaton sliced and diced Clayton’s various interviews about crypto regulations and Ripple, hilariously inserting clips of himself as the interviewer, grilling Clayton with a series of questions.
The SEC cried to the judge and dobbed on Deaton for teasing Clayton online.
The filing claimed the video made “many inflammatory statements, including about supposed drug use, and that Deaton might have to walk over and [profanity] out of Chairman Clayton.”
Avoiding beef: Brad Garlinghouse
Deaton remembered how Ripple boss Brad Garlinghouse tried to alpha-dog him at a crypto conference. Deaton says Garlinghouse has a unique quality, the kind of charisma that made everyone want to be around him and shake his hand. However, Deaton walked right past him and “wasn’t going to talk to him.”
Garlinghouse enthusiastically yelled out, “John, I’m Brad Garlinghouse” and they shook hands.
Garlinghouse cheekily followed up with “no pictures” and Deaton replied, “Hell, I’m not even going to talk to you.”
Deaton says the last thing he would want floating around the internet is photos of him and Garlinghouse, as he is acting independently for the investors, and people already think that he’s working “on behalf of Ripple.”
Minor beef: Vitalik Buterin
Deaton has taken on Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin over his public comments about XRP.
Buterin was decidedly unimpressed when Ripple tried to drag Ethereum into the securities case and called Bitcoin and Ether “the two Chinese-controlled virtual currencies.” He tweeted that XRP was a “shitcoin” and that it had “lost their right to protection” as a result.
Deaton stood up for XRP holders in a long thread calling Buterin’s tweet a “shameful and disgusting comment.”
“I don’t care about Ripple, in the same way, I don’t care about Vitalik [Buterin], I don’t own Ethereum because I like Vitalik, I own it because I like Ethereum.”
Deaton signed off the series of tweets directed at Buterin with a little bit of advice for the “young man.”
“I follow the big names, but I take it as a compliment that [Binance founder] CZ follows me, as well as [Kraken founder] Jesse Powell, Brad Garlinghouse, amongst other big names,” Deaton notes.
On several occasions, Deaton has been seen quoting Powell’s thoughts on XRP.
Given his popularity on Crypto Twitter, Deaton has come to expect some encounters with wacky characters.
“I think Crypto Twitter, you have to get past the crazies, but there are certifiable people on there; it has been major for the whole XRP case.”
Deaton tips that new legislation to clean up digital asset regulation in the U.S. is unlikely to happen soon.
“I think the people out there saying that regulation will come from Congress, that isn’t going to happen within the next two years,” Deaton says.
And while he’s “not a price person,” he thinks Ripple winning the court case would give it a significant boost.
“Do I think it goes to $100 after they win? No. Do I think it goes up significantly from $0.45? Yes. I would see it going to previous all-time highs.”
But while he tips a strong future for the major cryptocurrencies, he’s not sure about the 10,000 other digital currencies.
“The crypto space is in for more pain. In a couple of years from now, there will be some survivors. Bitcoin will survive, Ethereum will survive, XRP will survive,” Deaton says, adding that “the thousands of tokens that are garbage” will probably fail.