7 Years Ago, She Spent 10 Bitcoins on Sushi

By today's value, Kashmir Hill would have spent about a quarter of a million dollars on dinner
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2020 6:23 AM CST
7 Years Ago, She Spent 10 Bitcoins on Sushi
   (Getty/Ryzhkov)

(Newser) – Bitcoin is going gangbusters this year, rising to more than $24,000 per coin, and the huge rally has Kashmir Hill reflecting on a certain sushi dinner she had seven years ago. In a New York Times op-ed, Hill recalls how she forked over 10 bitcoins in 2013 to treat a group of strangers at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco. Back then, bitcoin was just starting to gain a foothold and was worth about $100 a coin. As an assignment for Forbes magazine, Hill wrote about the cryptocurrency and tried to live on it for a week. She picked up 10 of the coins online for $136 and immediately discovered that her options for spending them were limited. "My only transportation options were walking or riding a bike that a friend rented to me for half a bitcoin," she writes. And getting a cup of coffee? Forget it.

At the end of the week, she decided to spend her remaining bitcoins at a sushi restaurant called the Safe Zone, one of the few establishments that accepted it. She ended up forking over 10.354 of them to cover the nearly $1,000 bill, which today would be worth roughly a quarter of a million dollars. At the time, she felt guilty using "funny money" to pay for the big meal. But she caught up recently with owner Yung Chen and discovered that he and his wife retired from the restaurant business a few years ago thanks in part to the 41 bitcoin they had accumulated. When Hill told him how guilty she felt at the time for paying in bitcoin, he said he didn't worry about it even then. “At that time, bitcoin wasn’t a big money," he said. "Now it’s big money.” Hill concludes her op-ed with, "Don't I know it. Burp!" (This is nowhere near as bad as a famous pizza purchase in 2010.)

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