Jay is the Bitcoin OG who created a meme by buying a Lamborghini with the cryptocurrency. He went from living on a poverty level to living a wealthy residential lifestyle thanks to bitcoin mining in the early days – but not without worrying about the safety of his family.
When BTC first cracked the $ 1,000 milestone in December 2013, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan suggested that Bitcoin couldn’t actually be used to buy anything of value.
At this point in time Jay (not his real name), then in his early 30s, and with the help of his wife, who is also a bitcoiner, bought almost 217 BTC to buy the presumably original Bitcoin Lamborghini from the Lamborghini Newport Beach dealer purchase. He then provided the evidence on the anonymous imageboard 4chan.
This proved that Bitcoin had real value – who would accept fake money for a Lamborghini? A meme was born that launched a million other memes.
“It’s kind of overwhelming as an individual – I made a meme.”
As an archetypal Bitcoin OG, Jay started around 2010. Despite being broke and supporting a very low-income family in Southeast Asia, he built 20 GPUs, resulting in electricity bills six times his rent.
“I was really poor – I made about $ 8,500 a year supporting a family, and babies cost money. I used to have business and savings, but studying and starting a family got me damn close to $ 0, ”he remembers, puzzled.
“It’s incredibly hard to HODL Bitcoin when you eat pasta every day and do everything and spend what you have on computers and miners. But I had this belief, I knew that this would change the world. “
Today Jay lives in a residential complex in a small town of fewer than 100,000 people in Southeast Asia with his wife, three children, and three dogs – one of them a professionally trained and imposing watchdog that I had no doubt was ready to take to me tearing his face off on command when i visited.
His home actually consists of two houses on two streets, which are subtly connected in the middle and form a subtle facade. While “normal” luxury vehicles are in the front garage, there is nothing less than Bitcoin Lamborghini 2.0 in the rear garage.
“Unfortunately, I had to sell so much BTC so early because I was so close to $ 0 and I had kids because I wanted a safety net. I could add at least a zero to my net worth if I didn’t have a family – but it’s a paradox because family is the reason I do it. “
Jay’s fortune is crowned by a loaded 1,000 BTC Casascius “physical Bitcoin” gold coin, few of which exist. In fact, it is the most valuable coin in the world, with a face value of around $ 60 million and a collector’s premium of many millions more.
That’s how we got to know each other, because I act as an agent for such rarities and they Encyclopedia of Physical Bitcoins and Cryptocurrencies. For Jay, however, owning such coins can prove stressful “if someone associates me with holding tens of millions of dollars in effective bearer bonds.” Such coins keep the private key for the specified amount of bitcoins under a tamper-proof label and are therefore comparable to bearer bonds, gold or cash.
Such a privilege is “difficult to manage,” says Jay, on the family front. Living in a country with a large wealth gap, he explains that money can be used metaphorically to either build a bigger wall to separate yourself from the masses or a bigger table to get them on your side. “To be honest, I have to do both, but I want to build a bigger table,” he says. He feels exposed to very real world threats including the kidnapping of family members by international criminals.
“I’ve had problems with some Russian oligarchs in the past, but I don’t think I’m a target now.”
Even so, it’s hard to put aside worry or paranoia – states of mind Jay naturally considers him to be. Late one night while enjoying beer and burgers on the outskirts of town, Jay’s cheerfulness suddenly turned into sharp attention when he spotted a vehicle loitering near his Lamborghini. “It was there for over 30 seconds,” he said, still looking nervous after the car pulled away. “You probably just admired the car – but what if?” He was visibly restless.
Jay describes a normal childhood in an average lower-middle-class family in the American Midwest. Money was sometimes tight, but basic needs were covered and the school was fine. He was distinguished by geography, which he took for granted without having to study.
He started to work at the age of 12, stapling large boxes together in a family friend’s warehouse. The job was repetitive and it was actually illegal to employ such a young child, but Jay has been there willingly and believes that interacting with business owners at such a young age has given him valuable prospects.
After high school, Jay enrolled at a university near his home to study international relations and computer engineering. He became disaffected, however, because he believed that “much of what the university taught me was total rubbish” and was mainly aimed at making him a “good wage slave”. While studying money, “I was blown that fiat money was based on nothing – it was debt.” He got out to run his own bookstore, which he later sold to a company that was itself taken over by Amazon.
“Realizing that the financial system and money are bullshit motivated me to drop out of university in the US and do my own thing.”
Jay used the money to travel, first to Mongolia, which he believes could be a “missed gem” and offer economic opportunity. Later in Kazakhstan, he spent time with a group that “trained golden eagles to hunt wolves,” and heard high praise for Southeast Asia from other passing travelers – knowledge he later shed. His money was running low and he soon returned to the US where he found some success trading oil futures from home.
“When the tsunami hit Southeast Asia on Boxing Day 2004, I realized it was bad sitting around doing the crap, doing nothing, and jumping on a plane to help.”
Jay decided to stay and went to a local university, this time choosing to study business administration. Years after graduation and financial difficulties, he came across the Bitcoin whitepaper via the infamous Cypherpunks mailing list in 2010, where it was discussed in the early days of cryptocurrency. He had previously read a book on cryptography – he loved to read – and he noticed the project. He thought it was brilliant, “but I thought there was a very slim chance it could become global money – it was too crazy.”
The biggest draw was not the money issue, but the idea that “this is breaking the censorship”. He remembers someone early adding Bible verses to the blockchain – forever indelible. With Bitcoin everyone could write freely on the wall of eternity.
The Bitcointalk forums
The Bitcointalk forum was an interesting place in the early 2010s when Jay remembers a gathering of what appeared to be “random people with random ideas”. Bitcoin at the time was primarily an intellectual pursuit and attracted socialists and communists alongside the libertarians who were more associated with the history of the movement.
One idea debated at the time involved canceling and reissuing coins at an address after two to five years of inactivity, while others suggested that mining bonuses could be adjusted based on individual needs or national income. In the absence of a firmly established value, the Bitcoin idea was considered quite malleable and not necessarily set in stone – it could be anything.
Jay was confused by some of the statements. “I wasn’t quite well read in philosophy at the time, so I didn’t really understand what the left saw in the idea,” he recalls.
The forum’s culture evolved as waves of discourse and new users followed the coverage of Bitcoin. There was a loose “core group” of enthusiasts who were close to the project; “Some new people came in every now and then, and others left.” The culture became more toxic, however.
Although he first argues that the toxicity is due to a “wild west culture” that naturally forms in some sort of gold rush, Jay notes that the people of the contemporary WallStreetBets community “seem incredibly polite and welcoming”. He adds that while he “doesn’t want to say anything bad about anyone,” he gives the Bitcointalk forum administration some responsibility for culture.
“I think that leading a community helps shape it. The person who ran Bitcointalk was pretty inexperienced and pretty much into the role – I wonder if it could have been any different. “
In contrast, the early Ethereum community seemed friendlier at the time, possibly due to the recognition of Vitalik Buterin who acted as the visible community leader. Buterin reached out to Jay during the Ethereum rollout, but Jay was unfazed.
“I told Vitalik on Skype that Ethereum would fail because it was too centralized.”
Despite his concerns, Jay owns some Ethereum and is not an extreme bitcoin maximalist like some of his colleagues.
“There shouldn’t be people who have keys to the Internet. It should be based entirely on math because it can be, ”he argues, referring to what he believes is unnecessary centralization and reliance on human figures within the Ethereum community.
Jay is already an old hand, barely more than a decade after stumbling upon Bitcoin. He is wary of recent developments and describes DeFi as “definitely risky” as leading some projects has the power to unilaterally take control of your funds. He shares a similar stance on NFTs, saying that “99% of them will become worthless, but some could become cult classics,” a mindset that was particularly prevalent among ICOs in the 2017 boom.
All in all, Jay is fine in life and he is focused on his family, but there is some discomfort – an unease around him that has nothing to do with even physical safety.
As with many people who achieve their goal, he has everything he can dream of, but it is not exactly clear what to do next considering that he has enough to keep his offspring by 4th grade. To provide for the generation financially. One thing is certain – he is not looking for fame. “I don’t really want this article out there, but I think overall it’s fair and the story should be told,” he says.
“I have achieved my goal, now what? I’ve achieved my goals in life, but I’m not dead yet so I have to do something. I don’t know what – but something … “