Why People Are Giving This Man Almost $2 Million in Free Bitcoin

December 8, 2017, 9:25 PM UTC

Even though bitcoin prices have reached over $15,700, some users are quite literally giving it away to one man, apparently making an overnight millionaire of an early bitcoin advocate who says he only just recently paid off his debts.

After revealing in late November he had not profited off bitcoin’s nearly 2,000% rise over the last year, Andreas Antonopoulos, who has convinced many to get into the bitcoin game through his speeches and books, received hundreds of donations totaling $1.6 million worth of bitcoin as of Friday. That’s about 102 tokens over the course of three days.

“Words are my craft, but tonight I am speechless,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday, noting shortly afterward that he was going offline for a few days to “process everything that happened.”

The windfall came after a Twitter user questioned why Antonopoulos, a well-known figure in the bitcoin community, needed donations via Patreon to fund his work and living. Some assumed that bitcoin’s massive rise likely left Antonopoulos rich, given his early advocacy for the cryptocurrency. Antonpoulos countered, noting that he only recently got out of debt and couldn’t hold on to his early investments.

But the donations really began flooding in when, days later, another well-known bitcoin advocate, Roger Ver appeared to rub salt in his wounds, questioning why Antonopoulos hadn’t made investments in Bitcoin.

“I did invest, Roger,” Antonpoulos wrote, adding that he couldn’t afford to buy into bitcoin at the time.

Antonopuolos elaborated further on Patreon, saying that he had fallen in love with bitcoin around 2012. Because of his passion for the cryptocurrency, he eventually abandoned his job as a freelance consultant, deciding instead to speak at conferences about bitcoin, consulting for startups, and writing articles free of charge. By late 2013, he had begun liquidating his retirement fund and went deep into debt in order to fund his activities.

“I could’ve become wealthy. If only I hadn’t sold. If only I hadn’t given away hundreds of bitcoin to complete strangers. If only I had reduced my expenses more. If only I had made smarter choices. If only…” Antonpuolos wrote in a Patreon post, explaining that while he felt fortunate to be debt-free, the critical tweets on Twitter were still painful reminders of his past choices.

As a result of the posts on Twitter and Patreon, bitcoin owners began donating bitcoins to Antonpuolos’ Bitcoin address. Most gave a fraction of a bitcoin to the cryptocurrency advocate. But others gave much more—one user gave 79 bitcoin, or about $580,900. Another sent him $1.2 million worth.

Twitter, meanwhile, turned into a love-fest over Antonpoulos and his roadshows.

“I sat reading the responses with tears in my eyes. An outpouring of positivity washed over me,” Antonpoulos wrote. “People I have never met jumped to my defense, reminding me that they started their journey after watching my videos, or reading my books.”