The Honky Stonk Man.
My 30-day quest to become a Meme Stock Millionaire.
What finally got me to invest in the stock market was dumber than you could possibly imagine.
Dumber than Wall Street Bets, you may ask? A Reddit forum where raving maniacs have (often successfully) turned the market into a degenerate gambler’s slot machine? A place where currency is as weightless as the bits in which they’re encoded; a place that is so loaded with volatility and poor decisions that a link to the Suicide Hotline is permanently pinned to the sidebar?
Yes, dumber. Inarguably dumber, even.
Don’t get me wrong, I was paying very close attention to WSB and what they were doing to get essentially every investor on Earth to stop and stare in gleeful terror. But this was merely a spectator sport for yours truly. I was perfectly content to watch dorks become overnight millionaires (or woefully crash) in a grassroots effort to stick it to The Man. It was plenty entertaining, and I appreciated the effort put forth to attempt to change the game. I was rooting for them, but I wasn’t one of them. These are not the kinds of people a regular civilian should be taking financial advice from.
For one, my wife would have killed me. The Missus is a sharp, fiscally conservative day trader. She doesn’t gamble. She has her modest portfolio of local companies and weed manufacturers, makes a few bucks here and there, and that’s fine. She’s fine. And she’s fiiiiiiine.
I, on the other hand, have a teensy-weensy lifelong problem when it comes to gains and losses. I gamble big with no intention of winning. On sports. At the casino. Anywhere. I know I could use my smarts (like the Missus) to make good decisions and slowly boost my bankroll over time, but that’s not what does it for me. It bores me to tears. I either need to win big or lose big immediately. I make absurd parlays, push all my chips onto black, and if I were invested in the market, I’d do exactly what these WSB psychopaths were doing. The nonsense makes perfect sense to me. Where’s the fun in being patient? The dopamine hit doesn’t happen when I open the box, it’s when I made the purchase.
Here’s a true, sad gambling story. I used to go through a website called BetOnline to gamble on sports (it’s conditionally legal in Wisconsin). BetOnline reroutes your cash to an offshore account where it’s laundered (I assume) and bounced back. This means that it wasn’t uncommon to see debit charges on my card from shell companies like 'UkrainianPhoneCards.Ag' and not bat an eyelash. One day, my credit union noticed one of these and proudly contacted me to let me know they caught the fraudulent charge. This led to an embarrassing conversation where I had to tell them that yes, this was a legitimate charge that I personally made and wanted to go through. The next time I get my identity stolen, they’re justifiably not going to do shit for me and I’ll deserve it.
Nope, what finally got me to invest in the stock market was dumber than you could possibly imagine. Dumber than Wall Street Bets. More irresponsible than my gambling addiction. Dumber even than not taking my wife’s perpetually-sound advice.
I went in because of this guy.
This is Cameron Grimes, and he’s the actual, no fooling, why-would-I-make-this-up reason why I took $1,000, kissed it goodbye and lit it on fire. He’s not even a real person.
Cameron Grimes is a pro wrestler for WWE’s NXT brand. More specifically, he is a fictional character played by a 27-year-old man named Trevor Lee Caddell. Since his NXT debut in July of 2019, Grimes’ storyline has been nothing short of the most entertaining and absurd in all of Pro Wrestling.
Grimes is a classic hillbilly chickenshit heel. He wears a leather vest without a shirt. He wears a top hat that goes flying when he inevitably gets decked. He’s got too much body hair, which is extensively oiled at all times. He’s constantly bitching about how management is unfair to him and weaseling out of matches unless he can find an underhanded way to gain an advantage. On the mic, he’s a whooping, hollering orbit of cockiness, right up until the moment he has to back up his words in the ring. He’s a perfect throwback. He’s awesome.
He’s also an idiot. He got into a fight with Kushida because the Back to the Future-obsessed Japanese superstar stole his beloved hat. He slashed the tires on Damien Priest’s Dodge Challenger and couldn’t believe he’d be angry about it. He ran afoul of psychopath Dexter Lumis, who then challenged Grimes to a Haunted House of Terror Match at Halloween Havoc. During this match, Lumis chased Grimes down the street in a windowless minivan and assaulted him with a hoard of zombies.
Pro Wrestling is better than the things you like. That guy standing behind Grimes is the good guy.
Following Halloween Havoc, Grimes was written off of television for about 6 weeks so he (Caddell) could get arthroscopic knee surgery. This is where Grimes’ story becomes relevant to my life.
For you see, Cameron Grimes came back different.
Cameron Grimes had become a GameStop millionaire. A Dogecoin capitalist. He was inexplicably wearing glasses. It was unbelievable. I couldn’t stop laughing. He even came back with a music video:
Grimes also began a sudden, one-sided feud with Ted DiBiase, too dumb to realize that the Million Dollar Man maintained his (vast) riches because he was a con man.
So much fun.
Grimes may be fictional, but what happened to him is very much rooted in reality. The rumor going around at the time was that Caddell really did invest a sizable amount of personal wealth into GameStop and Dogecoin while on the shelf, which turned into an even more sizable gain. By the time Caddell returned to the NXT locker room, he had jokingly been nicknamed 'The Richest Man In NXT' because of his sudden windfall.
It really did seem like everyone, anyone willing to put a little scratch on the line was set to make a quick gain with meme stocks while the iron remained hot. It was risky, it was stupid, it was a quickly-closing door, and it was being kept afloat by real-life dolts like Cameron Grimes who were suddenly awash in cash they didn’t know what to do with.
Cut to me.
On my couch.
On my second glass of Cabernet.
Perhaps on Ambien.
Downloading the Robinhood app.
Here’s what I decided to do. More accurately, here’s what I found out I did when I woke up the next morning:
1. Through Robinhood, I would buy $1,000 worth of meme stocks and then do nothing for the next 30 days. No trades, no dip-buying, no cashing out early, no getting scared when I fell into the red. Just strap in for a month and let the Wall Street Bets mob do their thing. Make me wealthy, Guys I Wouldn’t Normally Trust With Anything.
2. Not a penny more, and not for a day longer. I would bounce at the end of March and that’d be it. No greed, no Gambler’s Fallacy, no hard feelings. I’m like De Niro in Heat, baby. When it’s time to leave, you leave.
3. If I became a millionaire (which was likely), I promised myself that I would finish our basement and then take the Missus to Ireland. If I lost everything, I promised myself that I would carry the weight of my shame to the grave and never mention the finished basement or Ireland stuff.
I decided to purchase $750 worth of GameStop stock and $250 worth of AMC stock. They seemed to be the meme stocks du jour at this point in time (March 2021). Much like Cameron Grimes, I was all set to lean back, crack open some bubbly and watch that needle go straight to the moon.
For the entire month of March, I got nothing, literally nothing, done. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I was on the verge of nausea at all times. I checked the ticker every minute. When it was up, it was doing what it was supposed to be doing. When it was down, I was inconsolable. Just like my every former venture with gambling, I knew that I could so easily get addicted to this feeling even more so than I already was. Down a few bucks? Just throw a few more bucks in? Up a few bucks? Well, that’s house money, now! Double down on that shit!
I’m for the legalization of gambling on sports, but if you haven’t already noticed, the pervasiveness of what that legalization entails is rearing its shiny head and bleached teeth. It used to just be boxing matches and Super Bowl props, but now you cannot watch a single sporting event without seeing odds on your screen, a breakdown of said odds, and where you can go to take action on those odds.
Fox Sports used to be the place/channel/app where I would watch Milwaukee Brewers games. The place/channel/app is now called Bally Sports (of casino and pinball fame). Imagine a future scenario where you’re watching a baseball game on your TV or phone. As the third inning begins, you receive a pop-up stating what the live betting odds are, and are asked if you wish to place a bet. You say yes, punch the amount in, hit ‘send’ and continue watching the game. You never left your TV/phone, you never left your channel/app, and you never had to access your bank account (already linked). A one-stop sportsbook shop, thanks to casinos taking direct ownership over streaming rights to professional sports.
Much like nicotine and alcohol, Bally Sports will also take the tiniest of strides to add some microscopic fine print about the seriousness of addiction to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility if you decide to effortlessly ruin your life with a single keystroke. Also, this is happening right this very second and isn’t a future scenario at all. Again, I’m for this, but it’s just one un-ignorable glimpse into a country with universally-legalized sports gambling.
It’s going to be, at best, annoying as shit. So get ready.
The 30 days inched along. One day, I was nearly up 200%. On another, I was down $600. The day-to-day market doesn’t always flounder wildly like a toddler in a wave pool, but the meme market sure did. Dudes younger than me, and with more to lose than me, had sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line that they were watching with less stress than I was with my measly (in comparison) grand. It was flabbergasting to log into Wall Street Bets and see people of modest means sitting on a 7-figure profit and refusing to move. It was psychotic. It was frightening. It was riveting.
I stuck to the promise I made to myself, though. On March 30, I took out what was left and deleted the app. I was out.
I made $200.
Somehow, some way, I had turned a profit. It wasn’t a finished basement. It wasn’t Ireland. But it also wasn’t financial ruin, either. I had participated in the Great Experiment and emerged unscathed. I hopped onto the wildest ride of 2021 and it didn’t decapitate me.
I also learned that, amongst my breathtakingly irresponsible behavior, I actually had more agency over my gambling issues than I realized. By setting such bizarre parameters for myself, I glitched out my mental responses to gains and losses. When it was over, I wanted it to be over, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. It’s now April 19 (as of this writing), and I haven’t placed a bet on anything since Cameron Grimes convinced me to roll the dice on March 1. And that’s a pretty good stretch for me.
What finally got me to invest in the stock market was dumber than you could possibly imagine. But the fact that it may have changed me for the better?
An immeasurable gain.
(On March 31, I took the $200 and rented out the Palace Theater in Sun Prairie to watch Godzilla vs. Kong. It was our first trip to the movies since 2019.)