After two weeks in which GameStop became one of the hottest stocks of the year, its share price whipsawed on Thursday when the amateur trading platform Robinhood barred users from investing in a number of stocks including GameStop.
As Reddit users urged one another to refrain from selling, three small, amateur investors explained why they had bought shares in the company, and why they aren’t selling despite the risk of losing their money.
‘It was a chance to make money’
A 37-year-old store manager from Pittsburgh, US, first heard about the GameStop shopping frenzy at work. “A few colleagues were hyping it, and some other friends too, all millennials, parents of young kids, online-savvy types. I did some research and immediately knew that I wanted to put my money in, make big gains, and watch the rich cry into their $5,000 suits.”
He bought $500 of shares , which have so far netted him gains of 23%. “I thought ‘screw it’ and did it. Then yesterday I bought in with another $500. My parents would freak out if they knew I bought these shares. I’ve heard that people have taken out higher mortgages to go all in with GameStop, but I just used an amount I’m comfortable playing with.”
He said buying GameStop shares was not all about making financial gains. “It was a chance to make money, but it’s about so much more than that at this point. My husband and I both earn well, but seven years ago we were priced out of Washington DC and moved to Pittsburgh. We’re renting, we cannot buy a house. I feel like my money, here in my little corner, is making a point.”
He added: “I’m not selling. I’m nervous, but I’m holding. I’d rather take a loss than let Wall Street and the Fintech [financial technology] apps win.”
‘I enjoy seeing the average man winning for once’
A 33-year-old solicitor from Greater Manchester said: “I am enjoying seeing the vulture hedge funds that profit from trying to force a company’s price down being on the losing side for once, and the average man winning.
“I came across some interesting thoughts on GameStop via the Wallstreetbets thread. The basic thesis was that there are lots of short sellers who owe people GameStop shares, and that they would owe a lot of money and thus be forced to buy back in as their options expire.
“I felt the ideas made sense [and] bought 60 shares, partly for a laugh, and sold 15 of them yesterday, for about $300 each. I have 45 shares left, this afternoon they were worth around $380, and if I had sold, I’d have made about $17,000 on an investment of around $2,250.”
He said he had bought shares before, but hadn’t gambled like this. “But with GameStop I thought: this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’m gonna take it.”
When his chosen platform halted Gamestop trading, he said: “This would appear to suggest the game is rigged for the benefit of the hedge funds. My 45 shares are currently dropping in value, so we shall see where they end up in a few days. I’m not selling.”
‘It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message’
A 23-year-old student at London university said he had invested £5,000 in GameStop when the shares were around $60, “but I have friends with far more than that in it. We all joined in, not just because of the money but because we wanted to send a message to Wall Street to tell them it’s not OK for you to make money through the destruction of companies, jobs and the economy.”
The student added: “My friends and I have now all covered our initial positions and are riding this until everyone pays. All of our families, friends, rich or poor, have applauded what we are doing. They were scared about the money at first, but they’ve seen the hedge funds cave and now they want to join in to stick it up to Wall Street.
“People have not forgiven nor forgotten what happened in 08. It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message.”