Exclusive Interview With Crypto-Mogul Gary Wang’s Parents


Asher Boiskin ('24) and Euronews

Wang’s senior student portrait from the 2011 yearbook (left) and a more recent photo of Wang, courtesy of Euronews (right).

In the third installment of The Wang Files

Gary Wang, formally known as Zixiao Wang, has recently faced widespread scrutiny for his involvement in a multi-billion dollar scandal with the cryptocurrency exchange FTX. An Eastside editor got a glimpse into Wang’s worldview through an exclusive interview with his parents — something that no other media sources have been able to do.

“I felt like we lived in two different worlds…He was very naïve, believing everyone around him was good…He was an idealist and full of care toward the world.” That is who Gary Wang is in his father’s eyes.

At eight years old, Wang moved from China to Minnesota. From a young age, he showed a high aptitude for math and science. In sixth grade, Wang tested into the University of Minnesota’s Talented Youth in Mathematics Program in Rochester (UMTYMP), where he stayed in the program for four years until ninth grade and finished learning calculus. These four years of study were pivotal in developing his later interests in math and computer science.

In 2008, as a rising high school sophomore, Wang moved to South Jersey and attended Cherry Hill High School East, where he took the highest level math course available — Multivariable Calculus. Throughout high school he competed in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC) and North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) and was consistently ranked in the top 50 in the nation.

Many thought Wang was only good at STEM subjects, however, according to his father, Wang was a fast and avid reader during his elementary and middle school years. His parents recalled how they would bring Wang to the library every weekend in middle school to foster his love of reading. However, after entering high school, he spent almost all of his free time and summers on computer science and coding.

“From a young age, he was very quiet and solely focused on his strongest interest in math and coding,” explained his father. 

As a result, Wang wouldn’t have much time to prepare for his school classes and tests. His parents remembered how sometimes Wang would only start studying the night right before his SAT subject tests. In multiple instances, he would still earn a perfect score because he already had a solid conceptual understanding of STEM subjects. 

Although he was on the passive side, his parents believed that Wang had a good high school experience and liked his college life as well. 

“He had close relationships with his friends and enjoyed running Math Club at high school,” said his father, “He made good friends at college too.” 

After entering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Wang’s worldview was influenced largely by his peers and education, and he became more environmentally conscious. 

Wang (right) laughing alongside a teammate after losing a 2012 Maslab robotics competition at MIT.

“When I bought him bottled water, he said he would rather drink tap water because it was more environmentally conscious,” said his father. “He wears a T-shirt all four seasons…After college, he no longer eats meat, eggs, or drinks milk.”

He also talked about Wang’s simple lifestyle. Wang didn’t want to save money to buy a house but preferred renting instead. 

“Toward himself, he lived a very frugal life, eating vegetarian, spending minimum…and putting his own income back into the company,” said his father, who seemed to have a hard time understanding his son’s views. 

“If there was one thing we could tell everyone,” said his father, “it would be that he has a kind heart, and he treated the Earth with care and love.”

Wang’s parents also believed that Wang didn’t care about the money aspect of FTX — he often didn’t bother to request reimbursements for business related costs. 

“Regarding FTX, he wasn’t interested in the communication or management parts of the company. He was only interested in his part of work, [which was] coding,” said his mother.

When FTX was starting up, his parents said that they cautioned him multiple times about abiding by the law, but Wang told them not to worry — because the company had plenty of attorneys to ensure the business was operating legally. 

“When I [first] heard the news of the [FTX fraud], I was shocked and…very worried,” recalled his father.

Wang pleaded guilty to federal charges in December, 2022 and is cooperating with prosecutors.

Wang’s father added, “Now that it has happened, we are advising him to face the reality and deal with whatever is coming.”

Original interview was conducted in Chinese, and quotes were translated into English.