As you might know already, today (May 22) is known in the crypto community as “Bitcoin Pizza Day”, for it was this day in 2010 that Laszlo Hanyecz, a Florida-based software engineer, paid 10,000 bitcoins—roughly the equivalent of $80 million at today’s prices—for two Papa John’s pizzas.
In this article, we take a closer look at recent and past conversations with the man who has since then become known as the “Bitcoin Pizza Guy” to learn more about him, why he did what might seem crazy today, and what he thinks about mainstream adoption of Bitcoin.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Laszlo Hanyecz is a computer programmer who lives in Jacksonville, the most populous city in Florida. He works for GORUCK, an American company—founded in 2008 by former Green Beret Jason McCarthy—that specializes in design and manufacturing of tough (military grade) backpacks, footware, and apparel. Laszlo is one of GORUCK’s earliest employees, and in fact, he built GORUCK’s first website, and he has been managing its IT systems since then.
On 18 May 2010, Laszlo, posted the following message to the Bitcointalk forum, an online discussion forum that was initially created by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin, on 22 November 2009. The first known Bitcoin transaction took place here.
Here is how it happened. It all started when Bitcointalk forum member and pizza lover Laszlo (username: “laszlo”) created a thread called “Pizza for bitcoins?” on 18 May 2010. This is how he started the thread:
“I'll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day. I like having left over pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I'm aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don't have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a 'breakfast platter' at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you're happy!
I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire.
If you're interested please let me know and we can work out a deal.
Three days later, he still had not found anyone willing to accept his offer of 10,000 BTC for two pizzas:
“So nobody wants to buy me pizza? Is the bitcoin amount I'm offering too low?”
Fortunately, on 22 May 2010, four days after he originally posted his offer, Laszlo was able to report that another forum user (“jercos”), Jeremy Sturdivant, had accepted his offer, and supplied him with two Papa John’s pizzas:
“I just want to report that I successfully traded 10,000 bitcoins for pizza.
Since one bitcoin was worth $0.0025 back then, this meant that Laszlo’s 10,000 BTC was only worth about $25 at the time of this transaction.
Interestingly, the following month (on 12 June 2010), since Laszlo still loved pizza and still owned plenty of bitcoin, repeated his offer by posting the following message:
“This is an open offer by the way.. I will trade 10,000 BTC for 2 of these pizzas any time as long as I have the funds (I usually have plenty). If anyone is interested please let me know. The exchange is favorable for anyone who does it because the 2 pizzas are only about 25 dollars total, maybe 30 if you give the guy a nice tip. If you get me the upgraded extra large ones or something, I can throw in some more bitcoins, just let me know and we'll work something out…”
On 27 May 2018, at a time when Bitcoin was trading around $8,000, just like it is now, Cointelegraph interviewed both Laszlo and Jeremy. During this interview, Laszlo was asked if he ever regretted paying 10,000 BTC for two pizzas. Laszlo replied:
“You know, I don't regret it. I think that it's great that I got to be part of the early history of Bitcoin in that way, and people know about the pizza and it's an interesting story because everybody can kind of relate to that and be [like] – “Oh my God, you spent all of that money!” I was also kind of giving people tech support on the forums and I ported Bitcoin to MacOS, and you know, some other things – fix bugs and whatnot, and I've always kind of just wanted people to use Bitcoin and buying the pizza was one way to do that. I didn't think it would get as popular as it has, but it's gotten to be a really catchy story for people.”
Laszlo, who had experimented with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network on 25 February 2018 by buying another two pizzas, this time for 649000 satoshis (the equivalent of around $62 back then), was also asked if the Lightning Network could help make Bitcoin achieve more mainstream adoption. Laszlo answered:
“The Lighting Network is not perfect either, it has issues, it can be in abused in various ways, but it's a step in that direction, and to me, if something like Lightning Network takes off, I think you're gonna see every online retailer just switch to it because nobody wants to use MasterCard, and Visa, and PayPal.”
Last Sunday, American TV program “60 Minutes” also interviewed Laszlo to ask him about his original pizza purchase in May 2010:
In the early days of cryptocurrency, one man decided to trade his bitcoin for pizza. It was a historic event, but not such a great investment. “60 Minutes” reports, Sunday https://t.co/qS8Swvl5Go pic.twitter.com/raUBvyCD36
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) May 16, 2019
During this interview with reporter Anderson Cooper, Laszlo said that he had spent around 100,000 BTC (as Cooper pointed out to him, the equivalent of around $800 million, at today’s price levels) since 2010 for purchases (mostly pizza!).
Finally, earlier today, the company Laszlo works for, GORUCK, announced on its website that to help celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day, it’s “offering a 10% discount on all orders paid in bitcoin through the month of May (2019):
“To celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day and honor our very own Laszlo, GORUCK is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, and while supplies last all Bitcoin purchases will receive a free Bitcoin Pizza Day patch.”
Happy Bitcoin Pizza Day, everybody!
Featured Image Courtesy of Laszlo Hanyecz