Two New York brothers whose wedding video company was nearly destroyed by the pandemic became millionaires after investing $7,900 in a cryptocurrency originally set up as a joke.
The siblings – who wished only to be known as Tommy, 38, and James, 42, told CNN, they began dabbling in cryptocurrency in December 2020 after a friend told recommended they invest.
The brothers put several hundred dollars in a cryptocurrency called Shiba Inu coin – a parodic spinoff of another cryptocurrency called Dogecoin, named after a breed of Japanese hunting dog. Dogecoin was itself created as a joke by two friends, and features the face of the Shiba Inu dog.
An image of a gold Dogecoin, which initially started as a joke, but has since soared in value
Musk hosted SNL on May 8 and joked about cryptocurrency being ‘a hustle’ – tanking its value
At the time Tommy and James were recommended to invest, one coin was worth a fraction of a cent.
‘I kind of thought about Bitcoin – that was once a fraction of a penny and now it’s tens of thousands of dollars, and this happens to people, it’s possible,’ said Tommy.
‘I trusted my friend and I figured if it went to zero, that’s OK. I thought of it as a lotto ticket that wouldn’t expire.’
They also brought in their relatives.
‘My mother and sister were skeptical but they each put in $100, too,’ Tommy told CNN.
‘After a few weeks when it was up about 300 per cent they put another $100 in each, and then it kept going up.’
In total, the group put in nearly $8,000.
While filming a wedding in mid-April, their investment shot up to $100,000, and kept rising.
‘We woke up the next morning and it doubled. We were like, ‘Oh my god,” Tommy said.
‘Then it went up to $700,000 and I told my brother it’s going to hit a million. I kept refreshing my phone.’
A Dogecoin, with a picture of the Shiba Inu dog – a Japanese hunting dog
The following day, his prediction came true.
‘The day it hit a million – my mom and sister, they didn’t think it was real.’
The family’s initial stake of $7,900 is now worth nearly $9 million as of Thursday, CNN Business confirmed.
The brothers are yet to completely cash out their investment, and are holding out for the launch ShibaSwap, a decentralized exchange platform that should make it easier for them to do so.
‘This has happened so quickly it’s hard to even comprehend the things you can do with this money,’ Tommy said.
‘My parents’ house needs a new roof, so I’ll take care of that.’
The brothers were overwhelmed by their success, but James warned others that it was a highly risky gamble.
‘Don’t put in any money that you aren’t willing to lose,’ he said.
‘The meme tokens are very high-risk and you really don’t know what is going to happen with them. We know this is not what typically happens, although Shiba has changed our lives.
‘When you see it fluctuate so much, it does keep you up at night.’
Cryptocurrencies exploded in popularity in 2021, in part thanks to the vocal support of businessmen such as Elon Musk – who backed Dogecoin – and celebrities such as Backstreet Boys star Nick Carter, who is seen frequently tweeting the hashtag #Shiba and #ShibArmy.
Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter is among the celebrities investing in Shiba Inu
Antonio Brown of the New England Patriots is another cryptocurrency enthusiast
Earlier this week, the co-founder of Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, Vitalik Buterin, made headlines by donating $1 billion worth of Shiba coin to a COVID-19 relief fund in India.
‘As an enthusiast and investor in cryptocurrency, seeing the announcement about SHIB and Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin’s donation to India was very exciting,’ Carter told CNN Business in a statement.
‘I believe there is an incredible future for Crypto – especially knowing how it can be used for good and more importantly, to save lives.’
NFL star Antonio Brown tweeted Wednesday to his million followers that he too has invested in this cryptocurrency.
‘The Shiba business is booming and crypto is the way to go,’ Brown told CNN Business on Thursday.
‘It’s a new way of investing.’
Cryptocurrencies were once all considered a joke, but are gaining increasing acceptance.
Companies such as Microsoft, Sotheby’s and Pizza Hut all now accept Bitcoin, the most popular and widely-available cryptocurrency.
In March, the cryptocurrency hit an all-time high, with prices surging to $60,000.
Bitcoin’s volatility is well-publicized and has led many investors, including Warren Buffet, to criticize it and other cryptocurrencies as ‘risky’ and ‘worthless.’
However on Wednesday Musk, who has championed cryptocurrency, announced on Twitter that Tesla has ‘suspended vehicle purchases using bitcoin,’ out of concern over ‘rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining.’
The price of Bitcoin dropped about 5 per cent in the first minutes after Musk’s announcement.