Alexis Ohanian Bought Serena Williams' $3 Million Engagement Ring With Cryptocurrency

The Reddit co-founder earned $50 million after making a cryptocurrency bet.

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

After Alexis Ohanian proposed to Serena Williams in 2016, no one could stop talking about the jaw-dropping stone on her left hand. The Reddit co-founder presented his fiancée with a 17-carat emerald-cut diamond flanked by two smaller gems that cost a whopping $3 million, which makes it one of the most expensive celebrity engagement rings to date. In an interview with Forbes on February 22, 2023, Ohanian reveals that an early bet on cryptocurrency helped him foot the bill. The internet entrepreneur explains that he scored $50 million after investing in the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and by buying ether, another cryptocurrency token that’s a little less popular than bitcoin.  

Ohanian was ahead of his time in the cryptocurrency arena. In 2014, he first learned about the token after meeting with Coinbase executives. Once he understood its value, he decided to invest $15,000 in 50,000 ether. According to New York Post, one ether is worth $1,651 today, so his original investment would be worth almost $83 million. “In hindsight, I didn’t invest nearly as much as I should have,” he tells Forbes. Once Coinbase went public in 2021, Ohanian used $26 million from the proceeds in his stock to launch firm 776, which focuses on blockchain and other technology investments, and he donated $1 million to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s nonprofit called Know Your Rights, the publication reports.

During his interview, the tech-savvy entrepreneur also tells a story about his first date with the tennis star. “She asked me what I did,” he recounts. “I said I started and run this company called Reddit. She pretended like she knew of it, but she didn’t. She goes to her phone and searches the app store and she’s like, ‘How do you spell it?’ and I’m like ‘R-E-D-D-I-T.’ I’m sweating because I have to try to explain to her we don’t have an app.” Williams added that because there wasn’t an app, she didn’t think it was real. 

On December 10, 2016, the executive chairman of the social media site asked the ultimate question. For the proposal, he brought his girlfriend back to the Cavalieri Hotel in Rome, where they first met a little over a year earlier. Ohanian arranged a romantic table for two by the pool and covered the setup in red rose petals. After Williams said “yes,” she posted a poem about the proposal on a Reddit thread. 

Nine months later, the couple welcomed their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian. Two months after that, the duo tied the knot in New Orleans during a star-studded affair with celebrities, such as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Kim Kardashian, in attendance. The athlete donned a ball gown with a sweetheart neckline by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen—the same designer Kate Middleton used for her big day. The getup ranks at the top for the most expensive wedding dress of all time with a $3.5 million price tag—comparable to her engagement ring.

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