Most of the 90-odd guests at Donald Trump’s glitzy Christmas party in Naples, Fla., last December left with the ultimate GOP keepsake: a photo of themselves beside a smiling, thumbs-upping former POTUS.
But for Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the Republican firebrand from North Carolina, the night’s biggest souvenir was perhaps a crypto investment: the “Let’s Go Brandon” meme coin. (“Let’s Go Brandon” is Trump world shorthand for “f*** Joe Biden.”)
Crypto’s libertarian flair and the LGB project’s reputed donations to veterans’ groups intrigued the congressman, according to James Koutoulas, a hedge fund manager and key LGB backer who said he told Cawthorn about the coin at Trump’s party in Naples.
“He gave me a check a couple of weeks” later, after liquidating some assets, Koutoulas told CoinDesk in a phone call. The check was for about $150,000, Koutoulas said.
CoinDesk identified Cawthorn’s Ethereum network wallet by cross-referencing the public disclosures with on-chain data and confirming the matches with people familiar with the trades. The public, transparent transaction history indicates that all told, Cawthorn likely lost money on his crypto trades despite early wins.
The wallet received 180 billion LGB tokens, which were worth around $160,000 at the time, from Koutoulas’ wallet in a single transaction. “He locked in price earlier,” Koutoulas wrote in a text message, addressing the apparent $10,000 discrepancy.
The transfer went through on Dec. 21.
Cawthorn later predicted LGB’s price would the next day “go to the moon” in a Dec. 29 Instagram comment. When the LGB team announced a sponsorship of NASCAR driver Brandon Brown on Dec. 30, the coin indeed rallied mightily. The next day, Cawthorn sold off roughly a third of his LGB for a considerably more liquid cryptocurrency, ether (ETH), fetching a 94% return in dollar terms (though it’s unclear if he moved that ETH to cash).