July 25, 2024

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Roaring Kitty returned to speak with GameStop.  Stocks fell.

Roaring Kitty returned to speak with GameStop. Stocks fell.

Around lunchtime, in a live YouTube broadcast watched by half a million people, a bandanna-clad man wearing white sunglasses smiled at his webcam and joked: “I’m about to show it.”

Oh stop. He meant his brokerage account.

On screen is Keith Gill, the man known as Roaring Kitty, who became an unlikely Wall Street celebrity during 2021’s stock meme mania before disappearing from public view – and in his signature style, mixing beer, comedy and market commentary.

A quick refresher: Three years ago, Mr. Gill’s unrestrained cheerleading for GameStop and other companies on social media made him a sort of rabbi to the thousands of day traders stuck at home during the pandemic — people who bought huge amounts of stocks and drove those stock prices to nosebleed levels. . These traders’ use of internet memes and social platforms like Reddit to trade stock tips has given rise to a new class of investors.

Mr. Gill, 37, whose fame has been such that he testified before Congress and inspired a film called “Dumb Money,” has been out of the spotlight for the better part of three years, having come under some regulatory scrutiny. It returned to the top spot last month He posted a mysterious illustration on X Which many took as a sign that he had returned to day trading.

The post was followed by more cryptic social media messages and the leak of a screenshot on Reddit showing that Mr. Gill had more than $100 million worth of stocks and options betting on GameStop. Its shares rose immediately — “to the moon,” in meme-speak. The video game retailer used the opportunity to sell new shares, raising more than $900 million.

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Thus, anticipation was high when Mr. Gill’s dormant YouTube account on Thursday carried an announcement that he would host a live stream at noon the next day. CNBC broadcast the conversation live to speculate on what he might say. The Wall Street Journal created a live blog.

Then the unexpected happened. On Friday morning, GameStop released a An earnings report ahead of schedule that revealed disappointing sales and a surprise plan to sell more shares publicly. Its stock fell significantly.

By noon, when Mr. Gill was expected to go live, GameStop shares had fallen more than 30 percent. It wasn’t until about 12:30 p.m. that Mr. Gill’s camera lit up – after the preamble to rock music Muzak.

Wearing his signature bandanna and fake slingshots, Mr. Gill sat in front of a display of Gamestop’s falling stock price, while a heart monitor blared in the background.

“I’m fine?” He said. “Which had a close call.”

Mr. Gill immediately launched into his own brand of comedy: “Oh my God, there are crazy heads here,” he wowed the audience of 650,000 viewers. He joked that he was not Paul Dano, the actor who played him on the big screen. Drink a beer.

A few minutes later, Mr. Gill moved on to discuss GameStop, praising its management team and saying he saw potential for its stock. Clearly, this was not what everyone saw, because the company’s shares continued to weaken as he spoke.

“Oh, no, I’m making it go down,” Mr. Gill once said. More than 100,000 fans logged out of the broadcast.

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About a half-hour into the show, Mr. Gill made the big reveal. He switched the display on his screen from GameStop stock to an image he identified as his personal e-commerce account, revealing what appeared to be his large bets on the stock.

The photo showed property worth about $350 million, which is a large amount, although it was probably much more; On Friday alone, Mr. Gill lost $235 million.

There wasn’t much to say after that. Mr. Gill, who had been known to stream for hours on end during the pandemic, logged off on Friday after 48 minutes.

“It was a lot of inattentiveness because of the lack of content,” said Lorne Baykoff, an investor in New York.

GameStop shares closed down 39% on the day, about $28 a share, lower than when Mr. Gill began speaking.

Kitty Bennett Contributed to research.