Two brothers in Westchester, New York, awoke on April 17 to discover that they had become billionaires overnight, owing to an unusual wager on a cryptocurrency that was invented as a joke.
Tommy, 38, and James, 42, who have asked CNN not to use their last names to safeguard their privacy, had invested a few hundred dollars in Shiba Inu coin, a dogecoin spinoff that is effectively a parody on a parody. One coin was only worth a fraction of a cent, but a friend who was a crypto specialist convinced them it might be a significant moneymaker.
“I was thinking about bitcoin, which was once a fraction of a penny and is now worth tens of thousands of dollars, and this happens to people all the time,” Tommy explained. “I trusted my friend and felt it would be fine if it dropped to zero. It reminded me of a never-ending lottery ticket.”
Their lives transformed less than two months after they made their initial investment in late February. Instead of giving their father a card for his birthday, they made him a billionaire.
Cryptocurrency valuations have skyrocketed in 2021. Cryptos, including big players like bitcoin and lesser-known “altcoins,” are attracting unprecedented investor interest after years of being ignored or mocked by Wall Street. According to Coindesk, bitcoin has increased by about 70% since January, while dogecoin, which was created as a joke and is currently worth less than a dollar, has increased by more than 11,000%.
Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are exceedingly dangerous and unregulated investments. Prices are known to fluctuate dramatically. And digital currencies come with their own set of risks, such as the possibility of a hacked server, a deleted file, or a forgotten password, which might lock investors out of their money for good.
James and Tommy took a chance and put $200 each on the table. They also told their mother, father, sister, and a few other family members about the plan.
“My mother and sister were skeptics at first, but they both put in $100,” Tommy explained. “After a few weeks, when it had risen by around 300 percent, they each put another $100 in, and it continued to rise.”The group contributed approximately $8,000 in total.
‘Oh my God,’ I exclaimed.
The brothers’ main source of revenue before the pandemic was photographing weddings, but the Covid-19 outbreak nearly put them out of business. Instead of planning 30-40 weddings that year, they only did eight, according to James.
Tommy explained, “We kind of fell through the cracks.” “The government’s stimulus cheques were insufficient to keep us afloat. I’m a happy person, but it was difficult, and not knowing what the future held was frightening.”
It was difficult to believe the change in their fortune as their Shiba coin investment grew in value. They maintained half an eye on their investment, which had rapidly risen to $100,000 while filming a wedding in mid-April. And it just kept going up.
“When we awoke the next morning, it had doubled. ‘Oh my god,’ we exclaimed “Tommy remarked.
“Then it rose to $700,000, and I told my brother it was going to be a million dollars. My phone kept refreshing.”
It happened the next day.’
“My mother and sister didn’t believe it was real when it hit a million.”
What was the family’s initial investment of $7,900? As of Thursday, it was valued at roughly $9 million. CNN Business’s coin wallet and transaction history confirmed the amount.
What exactly is a Shiba coin?
Shiba Inu is a new cryptocurrency that is a derivation of dogecoin, which has a Shiba Inu dog as its emblem. It may have been a hilarious joke, but no one is laughing anymore.
According to CoinGecko, the Shiba coin, which has the ticker symbol SHIB, has increased by more than 11,000 percent in the last 30 days.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin made headlines earlier this week when he donated $1 billion worth of Shiba coin to a Covid-19 relief fund in India.
The cryptocurrency, also known as a meme coin or altcoin, has a slew of celebrity backers, ranging from former boy band members to NFL players.
Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys is frequently seen tweeting the hashtags #Shiba and #ShibArmy.
“As a cryptocurrency enthusiast and investor, watching the announcement of SHIB and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s commitment to India was quite thrilling,” Carter said in a statement to CNN Business.
“I believe Crypto has a bright future, especially now that we know how it can be utilized for good and, more significantly, to save lives.”
NFL star Antonio Brown announced to his over 1 million followers on Twitter on Wednesday that he, too, had invested in the cryptocurrency.
On Thursday, Brown told CNN Business that the Shiba business is expanding and that crypto is the way to go. “It’s a novel approach to investing.”
Thousands of cryptocurrencies exist, with bitcoin and ethereum accounting for approximately two-thirds of the $2.3 trillion global cryptocurrency market. And, as James and Tommy have discovered, they may be tremendously profitable while also being extremely volatile.
For example, bitcoin, by far the most well-known cryptocurrency, fell by a whopping 12 percent this week when Elon Musk said that Tesla will no longer accept bitcoin as payment due to environmental concerns. And following Musk’s performance on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, dogecoin, which Musk has frequently promoted on Twitter, dropped roughly 20%.
Tommy and James provide guidance.
Tommy and James are undecided about how they will spend their money. They have yet to receive a full return on their investment and are waiting for ShibaSwap, a decentralized trading platform.
“It’s hard to understand the things you can accomplish with this money because it’s happened so rapidly,” Tommy remarked.
The first order of business, however, is to assist Mom and Dad.
“I’ll take care of my parents’ house, which needs a new roof.”
If you’re thinking about trying to duplicate the brothers’ incredible success, James has some advice for you: “Don’t risk any money you don’t want to lose,” he said. “The meme tokens are extremely risky, and you never know what will happen to them. Although Shiba has revolutionized our life, we are aware that this is not common. It does keep you awake at night when you see it fluctuate so much.”
Paul R. La Monica of CNN Business contributed to this article.