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McDonald’s Twitter joke to Elon Musk inadvertently created a new cryptocurrency that people are actually buying

January 26, 2022, 6:48 PM UTC

A cryptocurrency based on a tweet McDonald’s made in reply to Elon Musk this week now has more than 1,000 holders and a diluted market cap of more than $2 million.

As Bitcoin and general crypto prices fell this week, and the volatility created a “M” figure similar to the McDonald’s logo on financial charts, the online crypto community made light of the situation with memes saying low prices meant they would need to get “regular jobs” at McDonald’s. Elon Musk even joked in a Tuesday tweet that he would eat a Happy Meal on TV if McDonald’s started accepting Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that the Tesla billionaire has championed in the past. 

After a few hours, McDonald’s replied that it would accept Dogecoin if Tesla started accepting “grimacecoin,” a made-up currency based on a purple bloblike character sometimes featured in McDonald’s commercials.

Almost immediately, at least 10 “Grimace Coins” popped up on the Binance Smart Chain Network, according to CoinDesk. One of these coins, which called itself, you guessed it, “Grimace Coin,” even had a professional-looking website within 24 hours of the initial tweet by McDonald’s.

A spokesperson from McDonald’s told Fortune that McDonald’s is not affiliated with any grimacecoin currency.

Anybody can create a cryptocurrency, and when a meme goes viral, it’s likely that someone will create a coin to capitalize on the hype. Mass purchasing of the coin can shoot the price up quickly, but it can drop dramatically from hour to hour and investors can lose everything they put in. Yet the massive price rise can still net a token’s creator hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Dogecoin started in a similar way, based on the doge meme that became popular around 2013. And although Dogecoin is now a top 10 cryptocurrency by market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap, that doesn’t mean meme coins always turn out to be sound investments. 

There’s even a name for it: Unreliable tokens, called “s*** coins,” oftentimes are created by shadowy developers with no white paper explaining the project. And their value often falls to zero. 

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