… and why Bitcoiners celebrate it on May 22nd
On May 22nd, 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz from Florida wrote a post on the Bitcoin Talk forum, offering 10,000 Bitcoins to someone who would deliver two pizzas to him. Jeremy Sturdivant from California saw the post and accepted the deal. He ordered two pizzas at Papa John’s, paid with his credit card and had them delivered to Laszlo’s home. That was the very first purchase of real goods in Bitcoin. Digital products like domain names and server space could be bought earlier, but nothing tangible and edible.
Since then the global Bitcoin community has been celebrating May 22nd as “Bitcoin Pizza Day” by getting together and eating lots of pizza. It is one of those funny expressions of Bitcoin Culture. Bitcoin is much more than just a new form of money, some call it a religion with its own saints, rituals and holidays.
What fascinates people the most about Laszlo’s purchase is the fact that 10,000 Bitcoins would have a value of about 300 Million US dollars today. You could buy many pizzas with that, and even some Lambos and Ferraris on top. One could expect that Laszlo Hanyecz regrets his deal, telling himself: “I should have kept those Bitcoins! How stupid of me!”
But in an interview in 2020 he said that he has no regrets at all. He even thinks that actions like his have been crucial for Bitcoin’s success as a currency. “If nobody’s using it, it doesn’t matter if I have it all” he is quoted, and that is very true.
I assume that Laszlo mined those 10,000 Bitcoin himself with his own computer, which was still possible in those early days. He probably kept some more and did not spent all of them. If that’s the case, he made a good decision: his purchase helped the Bitcoin network to become more useful, which makes his remaining Bitcoins more valuable.
I have my own, less impressive story about an early Bitcoin purchase. In October 2011 I earned my first Bitcoins by publishing a Libertarian magazine called Blink. It was not exactly a big success: of the 3000 people who downloaded the magazine as a PDF, only 11 paid the modest price of 0.66 Bitcoin, which was then about 1,50 Euro. There was no pay wall, just a price tag, and not everyone took it seriously.
Anyhow, my co-editor Daniel Fallenstein and me made 7.26 Bitcoins with our magazine, and we spent them all on hamburgers and beer at Berlin’s legendary Room 77, the first bar on this planet that accepted Bitcoin. For many years the Room hosted Berlin’s regular Bitcoin meetup, and it became a pilgrimage site for Bitcoiners from all over the world. Do I regret to have spent my first Bitcoins there? Not at all!
I have the same attitude towards spending Bitcoin as Laszlo Hanyecz: if early adopters like us had not spent Bitcoin when it was only a few dollars, a single Bitcoin would not be worth 30,000 dollars today. And we are still in the early days of Bitcoin. Every Satoshi spent today strengthens the utility of Bitcoin as a means of payment, and that is important. I don’t agree with the theory that Bitcoin is merely a store of value. Bitcoin can only be valuable if it is also used for payments, whether on-chain, through a second layer like the Lightning Network or in the form of Bitcoin-based Stablecoins.
By Aaron Koenig