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'Call Me the Dogefather': Elon Musk Explains Crypto to SNL's Audience

Dogecoin has risen 130-fold this year, for a market capitalization of about $80 billion, on par with France's largest bank.

May 9, 2021 at 4:03 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 12:52 p.m. UTC

"I'm really excited for my Mother's Day gift," deadpanned Maye Musk, mother of billionaire Elon Musk. "I just hope it's not dogecoin."

"It is," the Tesla and SpaceX CEO joked.

Musk, the billionaire trying to ferry people to Mars and build electric cars for Earth, hosted NBC’s "Saturday Night Live" program on, uh, Saturday night. As expected, the meme cryptocurrency dogecoin came up. During the "Weekend Update" segment (a parody of news shows), Musk explained cryptocurrency generally to the NBC show's audience, before hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost repeatedly asked him, "What is dogecoin?"

So "it's a hustle," Che said after Musk noted that dogecoin began as a joke (Musk said it is, and then said it's going to the moon).

Musk was introduced as a cryptocurrency expert named “Lloyd Ostertag.”

In the show's final sketch, Musk joked about creating a currency based on "whatever I say," before the show (briefly) explained the fiat monetary system.

Doge traded hands at $0.50 as of press time, falling 22% after the show began at 11:30 p.m. New York time. On a 24-hour basis, it was down nearly 30%.

Dogecoin's price fell after "SNL" began at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency Musk is fond of tweeting about, has gone on a tear this year, up more than 130-fold.

From Sunday through Saturday evening, just before the show started, the DOGE price had jumped 73%, ostensibly on speculation the joke token might get a boost from Musk's appearance on "SNL."

Barry Silbert, the founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG), disclosed Saturday the company is betting dogecoin's price will fall. DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk.

Many of the recent price pumps have been attributed to Musk: There is often a sharp increase in price immediately after he tweets about it. While the cryptocurrency was started as a joke, its rise this year has outstripped much of the broader digital-asset market. Bitcoin, for example, has doubled this year, so DOGE has gained some 65 times faster.

As a result, the Shiba Inu-represented crypto now has a market capitalization of more than $80 billion, roughly on par with France's largest bank, BNP Paribas, despite there still being just a few outlets so far that accept DOGE for payment. Still, acceptance seems to be growing. For instance, the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, which accepts the cryptocurrency for merchandise.

Despite Musk's Twitter support for dogecoin, perhaps it's telling that he hasn’t actually put any of his company’s money in that cryptocurrency – unlike his buying bitcoin. Musk’s Tesla put $1.5 billion in bitcoin on its balance sheet, later selling $272 million worth during the first quarter of this year. 

This week Musk warned his Twitter followers to “invest with caution” this week, saying crypto should be considered a fun speculation tool. 

“People should not invest their life savings in cryptocurrency, to be clear,” Musk said. “I think that’s unwise.”

UPDATE (May 9, 2021, 05:05 UTC): Updated with information from additional sketches.

DISCLOSURE

The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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