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How two brothers went from almost jobless to multi-millionaires with a bizarre crypto bet

Tommy, 38, and James, 42, who asked CNN not to release their last names to protect their anonymity, had put a few hundred dollars in a bizarre digital asset called shiba inu coin – a spin-off of dogecoin, so basically a parody of a parody. One coin was worth a fraction of a cent, but a friend, who happened to be an expert in crypto, told them he thought it could be a big money generator.

“I kind of thought of bitcoin – it used to be a fraction of a dime and now it’s tens of thousands of dollars, and it happens to people, it’s possible,” Tommy said. “I trusted my friend and told myself if he was at zero it was okay. I thought of it as a lotto ticket that wouldn’t expire.

Less than two months after their initial investment at the end of February, their lives have changed. It was their father’s birthday, and instead of giving him a card, they made him a millionaire.

Valuations on cryptocurrencies exploded in 2021. After years of being ignored or despised by Wall Street, cryptos – including established players like bitcoin and lesser-known “altcoins” – are enjoying interest without previous investors. Bitcoin has risen nearly 70% since January, and dogecoin, which started off as a joke and is still worth less than a dollar, has risen by more than 11,000%, according to Coindesk.
But cryptocurrencies are also extremely risky and unregulated investments. Prices are known to fluctuate wildly. And digital currencies come with other types of unique risks, such as the potential for a hacked server, deleted file, or lost password that could leave investors locked out of their funds forever.

James and Tommy rolled the dice, each initially investing $ 200. They also introduced the idea to their mother, father, sister, and a few other family members.

“My mom and sister were skeptical, but they also put in $ 100 each,” Tommy said. “After a few weeks, when it was around 300%, they put an extra $ 100 in each and then they kept going up.”

In total, the group has invested nearly $ 8,000.

‘Oh my God’

Before the pandemic, the brothers’ main income came from filming weddings, but the Covid-19 outbreak nearly shut down their business. Rather than book 30 to 40 weddings that year, James said, they didn’t do more than eight.

“We fell through the cracks,” Tommy said. “The government stimulus checks weren’t enough to support us. I’m a positive person but it was really tough, and not knowing the future was pretty scary.”

As their investment in shiba coins took off, it was hard to believe the change in their fortunes. While filming a wedding in mid-April, they kept tabs on their investment, which had quickly climbed to $ 100,000. And he kept climbing.

“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 was going to be a million. I continued to refresh my phone. ”

The next day it happened.

“The day it hit a million – my mom and sister, they didn’t think it was real.”

The family’s initial participation of $ 7,900? He is now worth nearly $ 9 million on Thursday. CNN Business confirmed the value through its coin portfolio and transaction history.

What is the shiba coin?

Shiba inu was created less than a year ago – an obvious spinoff from the dogecoin, which features a Shiba Inu dog as a mascot. Maybe it was a joke or a joke, but not many people are laughing now.

The Shiba coin, which bears the stock symbol SHIB, has risen more than 11,000% in the past 30 days, according to the CoinGecko site.
Earlier this week, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin made headlines by donating $ 1 billion in shiba coins to a Covid-19 relief fund in India.

The crypto, known informally as memecoin or altcoin, has also gained a handful of celebrity contributors, from former boy band stars to NFL pros.

Often Seen Backstreet Boys star Nick Carter Tweeter the hashtag #Shiba and #ShibArmy.

“As a cryptocurrency enthusiast and investor, seeing the announcement of 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 more than one million subscribers that he too has invested in this cryptocurrency.

“Shiba’s business is booming and crypto is the way to go,” Brown told CNN Business on Thursday. “It’s a new way to invest.”

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies, and bitcoin and ethereum make up almost two-thirds of the entire global $ 2.3 trillion crypto market. And while they can be quite profitable, as James and Tommy have learned, they are also extremely volatile.

How two brothers went from almost jobless to multi-millionaires with a bizarre crypto bet
For example, bitcoin, by far the most widely used crypto today, plunged 12% this week after Elon Musk canceled Tesla’s plan to accept bitcoin as payment, citing environmental concerns. And dogecoin, the one Musk regularly featured on Twitter, fell nearly 20% after Musk appeared on “Saturday Night Live” last weekend.

Tips from Tommy and James

As for how Tommy and James plan to use their money, they’re not entirely sure. They haven’t fully cashed their investment yet and are waiting for something called ShibaSwap, a decentralized exchange platform.

“It happened so quickly that it’s hard to figure out what you can do with the money,” Tommy said.

But the first thing to do is help mom and dad.

“My parents’ house needs a new roof, so I’ll take care of it.”

For anyone considering trying to replicate the overwhelming success of the brothers, James offers a word of warning: “Don’t put in money you don’t want to lose,” he says. “Even tokens are very high risk and you really don’t know what’s going to happen with them. We know that’s not what usually happens, even though shiba has changed our lives. When you see it fluctuate. so much, it does. keep you awake at night. ”

– Paul R. La Monica of CNN Business contributed to this article.


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