Although 2017 had no shortage of wild, weird, and wacky news, perhaps one of its most memorable stories was about the unexpected rise of Bitcoin. The only thing more remarkable than its meteoric valuations is the mystery of how the thing works.
In fact, it’s such a strange phenomenon that journalist Dave Barry wryly wrote, “Something called bitcoin apparently is a big deal that is making people rich even though nobody has the faintest idea what the [expletive] it is.”
Still, the fundamental enigma at the heart of Bitcoin isn’t stopping one anonymous individual from using it to give to others in a big way.
On Dec. 14, 2017, an individual known only by the user name PineappleFund posted to the /r/bitcoin section of Reddit and pledged to donate 5,057 bitcoins to charity.
That might not sound like a lot, but given that each unit of the decentralized digital currency is worthy somewhere around $14,000 as of press time, it actually totals a whopping $87 million.
“Sometime around the early days of bitcoin, I saw the promise of decentralized money and decided to mine/buy/trade some magical internet tokens,” PineappleFund wrote.
“The expectation-shattering returns of bitcoin over many years has lead to an amount far more than I can spend.
“What do you do when you have more money than you can ever possibly spend? Donating most of it to charity is what I’m doing.”
Since nobody has a clue to this philanthropist’s true identity and one of the selling points of Bitcoin is its utter anonymity, mainstream news sites expressed skepticism. But subsequent investigations revealed that PineappleFund seems to be the real deal.
To date, the anonymous donor has given away over $16 million to 16 nonprofits.
Recipients include Charity: Water (which provides clean water to Sub-Saharan African nations), Electronic Frontier Foundation (an online civil liberties advocate), and the Internet Archive (a digital library that provides permanent records of web pages).
“It was a wonderful surprise,” Electronic Frontier Foundation spokesperson Karen Gullo told The Guardian. “The $1 million donation will support the work we do standing up for user privacy and free expression, and defending civil rights in the digital world — work that is critically important during these challenging times.”
However, some of the nonprofits that received monies from PineappleFund focus on slightly more controversial areas of advocacy.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies examines clinical uses for the psychoactive recreational drug MDMA, and Watsi seeks to establish universal health care in the United States.
Still, it’s encouraging to see someone who made his mint use it to help others — and it’s nice to know the rationale behind his odd name. When asked by The Guardian why he chose the moniker PineappleFund, he said, “I’ve always liked Pineapple, but since it contains bromelain, [an enzyme that digests protein,] your mouth becomes tender if you eat too much of it.
“Then, like now, is a good time to share the pineapple. I have too many bitcoins for the life I would like to live, so I am sharing them.”
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