A reporter spent 10 bitcoin on a sushi dinner for dozens of strangers in 2013. Those coins are worth $230,000 today.

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  • A tech reporter once lived on Bitcoin for a week straight to test how valuable it is in the real world.
  • She bought a bunch of bitcoin in 2013 for $US136 each on Coinbase, hoping to use it for daily expenses.
  • On the last night of her experiment, she spent 10 bitcoin on a sushi dinner for dozens of strangers. Today that is worth about $US230,000.
  • The restaurant owner has now retired from the food business, thanks in part to his cryptocurrency earnings of 41 bitcoin, or $US902,000 today.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Kashmir Hill, a technology reporter at the New York Times, once lived on Bitcoin for one week straight as an experiment.

She detailed her memorable experience in a piece for the New York Times.

In 2013, Hill took on a special interest in the then four-year-old cryptocurrency, since her work primarily focused on the technology and data privacy. Tech junkies were just getting excited about Bitcoin back then, so she decided to explore its value in the real world by testing what it would be like to live on the currency for a few days.

Hill bought some bitcoin for $US136 each on the crypto-exchange Coinbase, hoping to find ways she could use her new “money.”

Although she lived in San Francisco, a hotspot for tech startups and companies, there were limited options for her to spend any cryptocurrency. During that week, she lost five pounds simply because she was tight on food and transport options. She was also “constantly caffeine deprived” because no coffee-seller seemed to accept Bitcoin.


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Hill decided to celebrate the last night of her experiment by hosting a dinner for at least 15 strangers at a sushi restaurant called Sake Zone — one of the few places that accepted the token. She sent an open invite on the social-networking site MeetUp and to a Bitcoin community on Reddit. To her surprise, more than 60 people turned up at the event.

She described the attendees as “a wild cast of characters.” Economists, entrepreneurs who were creating Bitcoin apps and games, and two founders of the arts event Burning Man were part of the crowd.

The dinner bill came up to a whopping $US957, which she paid in 10 bitcoin. “I felt guilty at the time, making Yung Chen [the restaurant owner] accept $US1,000 worth of funny money, because it was unclear to me whether Bitcoin should be worth anything at all,” Hill said.

As of 2020, the restaurant owner and his wife have retired from the food business. That may partially be due to their cryptocurrency earnings, of which they hold about 41 bitcoin in total, or $US902,000 today.

Bitcoin has had a wild ride this year, having hit all-time highs more than twice in the past month. The digital asset was trading around $US23,235 on Thursday.

Read more about Kashmir Hill’s week-long bitcoin experiment here.


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