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A history of Elon Musk’s love affair with Dogecoin, from a crypto-themed SpaceX mission to the moon to a Twitter spat with one of its creators

Associated Press

  • Elon Musk has promoted Dogecoin on Twitter since 2019 and has helped developers on the platform.
  • During the GameStop rally, the billionaire helped send Dogecoin from less than 1 cent to 69 cents.
  • It’s unclear how much Musk has personally invested in the meme currency.

The richest man in the world doesn’t usually take himself too seriously.Elon Musk attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City.Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, in New York City.

Theo Wargo/WireImage

Since he gained his mass following on Twitter, Elon Musk has been known for posting memes, as well as his support of crypto.

So it’s no surprise Musk latched onto the meme currency that is Dogecoin.

The cryptocurrency is the byproduct of a joke between two engineers in 2013.DogeThe Doge meme.

Zora

Dogecoin was launched when IBM software engineer Billy Markus and Adobe software engineer Jackson Palmer decided to combine two of 2013’s greatest phenomena: Bitcoin, and the doge meme.

The meme featured an image of a Shiba Inu dog with Comic Sans thought bubbles spouting out of it.

Reddit helped Dogecoin develop its own subculture in 2013, but Musk didn’t publicly take note until 2019.Dogecoin cryptocurrency coin and a graph are pictured in Kyiv on 08 July, 2021.

STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In 2013, Reddit helped buoy the digital currency to a market value of about $8 million.

It became popular for the internet practice of “tipping,” which was a way of repaying people on the web for performing “good deeds,” like sharing an idea or making a platform more accessible.

The cryptocurrency has long contributed to a culture that distinguishes itself by a sort of irreverence for institutions like Wall Street.Elon Musk in a dinner suit at the Met Gala 2022Elon Musk in a dinner suit at the Met Gala 2022.

NDZ/Star Max / Contributor via Getty

Musk has been known to express similar sentiments.

From making Hitler jokes and dissing President Joe Biden on Twitter to his battles with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO continually has questioned the status quo and challenged authority.

Musk first tweeted about Dogecoin in 2019.DogecoinDogecoin

NurPhoto

“Dogecoin might be my fav cryptocurrency,” Musk tweeted in April 2019. ” It’s pretty cool.”

Crypto news tracker Decrypt reported that searches for Dogecoin spiked between 2019 and 2020 seemingly around the same times that Musk tweeted about it.

He said in 2021 that he has been working with Dogecoin developers to improve the network since 2019. 

It’s unclear how much Dogecoin Musk owns personally. But, some have speculated he could be the Dogecoin whale who famously holds over 36 billion coins.The Temple of Doge

Lisa Han/Insider

A single digital wallet currently owns about 28% of the total digital currency.

The digital address could belong to a single person or an exchange, but users speculated it could be Musk when 420.69 Dogecoins were added to the wallet — a nod to one of Musk’s favorite jokes.

The richest man in the world has not commented on the wallet.

Dogecoin didn’t really take off until 2021 when it followed GameStop’s rally.The Reddit wallstreetbets icon on a man riding the wall street bull, against a background with the wallstreetbets logo and a stock arrow

Marianne Ayala/Insider

Much like the historic GameStop rally, Dogecoin was fueled by a Reddit group. 

But, instead of WallStreetBets, it was SatoshiStreetBets. In the group, users said they planned to send the currency “to the moon” — or at least to $1 per coin.

Musk helped lead the charge to send Dogecoin “to the moon.”Elon musk and a Doge in a rocketship to the moon

Cryptooof

In the spring of 2021, the crypto coin surged to an all-time high of 69 cents — up from less than 1 cent per coin in January of that year.

The rally came ahead of Musk’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live” and amid speculation that a mention of the coin on television could send it even higher.

Prior to the show, Musk had tweeted about Dogecoin multiple times, including a post in January of a “Dogue” magazine that was designed to imitate Vogue.

—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2021

He also posted a meme of himself holding up a Shiba Inu in the style of Disney’s “The Lion King” in February 2021.

—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 4, 2021

 

Musk mentioned Dogecoin on SNL, but it sent the coin lower.Musical guest Miley Cyrus, host Elon Musk, and Cecily Strong during Promos in Studio 8H on Thursday, May 6, 2021Musical guest Miley Cyrus, host Elon Musk, and Cecily Strong shoot a promo in Studio 8H on May 6, 2021

Rosalind O’Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Dogecoin dropped 36% the morning after his appearance on the comedy sketch show. 

Musk mentioned the crypto coin several times throughout his set, but on the Weekend Update portion of the show he posed as a financial expert attempting to explain the mania around Dogecoin.

In the sketch, his character says, “it’s a hustle.”

 

Musk promised to send Dogecoin to the moon, literally.Elon Musk looks at his phone with a display of a space capsule entering orbit behind him.Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk

Steve Nesius/Reuters

Just days after Musk joked about Dogecoin on SNL, the SpaceX CEO booked a mission to the moon that would be funded entirely by Dogecoin.

“SpaceX launching satellite Doge-1 to the moon next year,” Musk tweeted on May 9, 2021.

The satellite will be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket as a secondary payload. 

On Wednesday, the CEO of the company managing the DOGE-1 mission, Samuel Reid, confirmed that the mission is still in the works.

Earlier this year, Tesla began accepting Dogecoin as payment for merchandise.Tesla Model X.Tesla Model X.

Contributor/VCG/Getty Images

Musk made the announcement on Twitter and it temporarily sent the price of the cryptocurrency higher.

The decision came after Tesla already had begun accepting Bitcoin as a source of payment. Though, the company backtracked a few months later.

In May, SpaceX also began accepting Dogecoin in exchange for merchandise.

Musk gave his Twitter followers some advice: Don’t sell.Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks before unveiling the Model Y at the company's design studio in Hawthorne, Calif.Elon Musk says he is a free speech absolutist.

Jae C. Hong/AP

“As a general principle, for those looking for advice from this thread, it is generally better to own physical things like a home or stock in companies you think make good products, than dollars when inflation is high,” he wrote. “I still own & won’t sell my Bitcoin, Ethereum or Doge fwiw.”

Musk’s relationship with Dogecoin hasn’t always been smooth sailing. In May, one of the meme coin’s creators took aim at the billionaire.elon muskElon Musk on March 9.

Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In an interview with the Australian news site Crikey, Palmer called Musk a “grifter” and questioned whether truly understood coding.

Palmer said he messaged Musk on Twitter several years ago after creating a bot that could help identify crypto scams on Twitter. During the exchange, he said it became clear that Musk “didn’t understand coding as well as he made out.” Palmer said Musk didn’t know how to run the Python script.

“He sells a vision in hopes that he can one day deliver what he’s promising, but he doesn’t know that,” Palmer said. “He’s just really good at pretending he knows. That’s very evident with the Tesla full-self-driving promise.”

Musk fired back at Palmer.Elon Musk.Elon Musk.

Andrew Kelly/Reuters

The Tesla CEO ripped into Palmer on Twitter.

“My kids wrote better code when they were 12 than the nonsense script Jackson sent me,” Musk tweeted on Tuesday about Palmer’s code from 2018. “If it’s so great, he should share it with the world and make everyone’s experience with Twitter better.”

The billionaire also said that Palmer “never wrote a single line of Dogecoin code.”

In a since-deleted tweet, Palmer called for his fellow dogecoin cocreator, Markus, to respond to Musk’s accusation.

But, Musk appears to have a close relationship with Markus on Twitter.Elon MuskElon Musk tweeted that the deal was on hold Friday.

Picture Alliance/Getty Images

“The people after us did exponentially more than either jackson or i did on the code base,” Markus wrote on Twitter. “I think i wrote like 20 lines of code and copied the rest.”

Markus, who calls himself “Shibetoshi Nakamoto” on Twitter, is often seen tweeting back and forth with Musk. 

“You’re humble bro,” Musk tweeted in response to Markus. “Billy’s sense of humor & irreverence is a big part of why people love Dogecoin.”

Musk has continued to promote Dogecoin even as crypto has plummeted.Crypto chart

Yuichiro Chino

In May, crypto crashed — wiping out over $2 trillion in value in a matter of months.

Musk has acknowledged the sell-off, calling it “cryptonight.” But, Musk has not stopped supporting Dogecoin. In June, he said he’s continued backing the coin because “people who are not that wealthy” have asked him to.

The billionaire was sued for $258 billion over an alleged Dogecoin “pyramid scheme.”Dogecoin logo in front of a descending line chart

iStock; Insider

In June, a man sued Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX for promoting Dogecoin.

“Defendants falsely and deceptively claim that Dogecoin is a legitimate investment when it has no value at all,” Keith Johnson said in his complaint, filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan.

 

 

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