Former T-Mobile CEO John Legere has been slapped with a $100 million defamation suit for calling personal finance guru Grant Cardone a “con man” and a “bulls–t artist.”
Legere – who built T-Mobile into the third-largest US telecom operator before leaving the helm in 2020 – has more recently taken to tussling with Cardone, a real estate investor and internet celebrity who wrote the New York Times bestseller “The 10X Rule.”
Cardone, who has been featured on Discovery Channel’s “Undercover Billionaire,” has tapped celebrities including Tom Brady, John Travolta, Kevin Hart and even former President Donald Trump for his conferences, where attendees pay between $2,000 and $35,000 to learn how to dramatically scale a business, according to Cardone’s site.
But according to a Florida suit filed Thursday in Miami-Dade County, the value of Cardone’s brand has lately been slashed by “an amount believed to be no less than $100,000,000.00” because of Legere’s “false and defamatory statements.”
In online chats and social media comments, Legere has publicly slammed not only Cardone’s financial savvy but also the fact Cardone claims to be a billionaire, according to the suit.
In one particularly testy exchange on social audio app Clubhouse last June, Legere called Cardone “the biggest bull***t artist on the planet,” the suit states.
“You’re a f*****g con-man, I’ll say this on this room right now,” Legere said in the public conversation, according to the filing. “I believe that in the next year, Grant Cardone will be found guilty of fraud.”
“By the way, he’s not a billionaire,” Legere added, according to the suit. “He doesn’t have close to a billion. And he is … somebody who is self-promoting. And if you go to the world, go to the world of CNBC, go to CNN, go to the world, ask about Grant Cardone. He doesn’t exist.”
The filing says Legere was accused by audience members “of allegedly being drunk, slurring his words and appearing jealous and envious of Cardone’s self-made status” when he made some of the challenged statements.
A few months earlier in February and March 2023, Legere had posted snarky comments on Cardone’s social media, the suit adds. For instance, in the comment section of one of Cardone’s posts about saving his health, Legere posted “Steroids?”
The suit claims the comment was “thereby attacking Cardone’s reputation without basis.”
According to the lawsuit, Legere and Cardone previously had been friendly beginning in 2015, when Legere “expressed interest in implementing aspects” of Cardone’s tutorials at T-Mobile. The two men then worked together to “raise money for charity, philanthropic purposes and special causes via the Clubhouse platform,” according to the suit.
But after a brief stint recommending Cardone’s VIP health product 10X health to live chatrooms, Legere “abruptly pivoted away from his collaborative relationship with Cardone, and instead became hostile toward Cardone,” according to the suit.
“Legere often became extremely defensive, erratic, and combative, seeking to harshly dismiss Cardone’s views, even resorting to inappropriate personal attacks directed at Cardone’s background, religion, height, business, practices, live events, and reputation.”
The suit claims that Cardone privately reached out to Legere and demanded he end his attacks or the friendship would be over. Legere agreed “he had gone too far and said he would stop.”
But since then – the suit claims – Legere has “commenced a campaign designed to defame Cardone, by making claims that lack veracity and have caused and will continue to cause damage to Cardone’s reputation in the public community.”
As the rift escalated, the suit claims that in public chats listeners seemed to favor Cardone over Legere.
“The audience favored Cardone’s opinion on certain topics, such as education, economic disparity, the COVID-19 vaccine, politics, education and/or finance,” according to the suit.
A spokesperson for Cardone declined to comment; Legere did not respond to a request for comment.
Cardone is no stranger to scrutiny – and has faced his own legal troubles in recent years.
Financial researcher Aaron Smith-Levin, who cut his teeth working for Bill Ackman at the apex of the Herbalife battle, has posted videos that have claimed Cardone “stole over $100 million from Cardone Capital Investors.” Cardone has not publicly commented on the claims.
Cardone has also faced lawsuits from investors. One class-action suit, recently dismissed, claimed Cardone misled investors about the risks and returns of potential investments.
Other small business owners interviewed by Huffington Post claim they were caught in “lengthy, inflexible contracts” and sued by Cardone to pay out what amounted to tens of thousands of dollars left in their training contracts with his business. Those cases have been settled, the Huffington Post reports.
His brother, Gary Cardone – who gave Grant money to launch his real estate empire – recently reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the state of Florida over claims he and his wife misled investors and helped credit card scammers escape fraud alerts.
The couple paid a $100,000 settlement and are “prohibited from working with certain high-risk clients and using deceptive tactics to stop consumers trying to dispute credit card charges through the chargeback process.”