Bitcoin Pizza Day is ingrained in crypto folklore, not only because the transaction was the first time Bitcoin was used to buy a physical good or service, but because enthusiasts love to speculate on the value of the pizza purchase today. The 10,000-bitcoin purchase was valued at $40 USD at the time. In 2023, the same amount of bitcoin would be worth approximately $270 million dollars.
In a 2019 interview, Hanyecz said the transaction “made [bitcoin] real for some people. It certainly did for me.”
The origins of Bitcoin Pizza Day
Laszlo Hanyecz, a programmer from Florida and an early Bitcoin miner, posted the following message on a Bitcoin forum: “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.”
Jeremy Sturdivant, a 19-year-old known on the forum as Jercos, accepted the offer. He ordered pizza from Papa John’s (a US pizza chain), collected the order, and delivered it to Hanyecz’s house in return for the bitcoin.
Hanyecz posted on the forum a few days later noting, “I just want to report that I successfully traded 10,000 bitcoins for pizza.” He uploaded a photograph of his family enjoying the pizza with both of his children were wearing “I <3 Bitcoin” t-shirts.
Hanyecz was a Bitcoin miner and an active member on the Bitcoin forum. Before the first Bitcoin halving in 2012, each successful miner earned 50 bitcoin for discovering a new block. A miner needed 200 blocks to earn 10,000 bitcoin, a feasible amount since Bitcoin was in its early stages with relatively few people mining for the cryptocurrency.
Hanyecz wrote the first computer program for mining Bitcoin using a computer’s graphics card (GPU) which was a significant, yet frequently overlooked, contribution to the Bitcoin ecosystem. Prior to this contribution, the only way to mine Bitcoin was using the computer’s processor (CPU), but mining via the GPU made the process faster and more efficient.
He released the first version of Bitcoin Core for MAC OS just a few weeks after buying his bitcoin pizza.
Speculation on pizza price
Hanyecz is internet famous for his pizza purchase and has given interviews throughout the years around May 22. Journalists and crypto enthusiasts love to recount how much his 10,000-bitcoin pizza purchase would be worth today if Hanyecz had held on to the currency. There is even a daily Twitter feed stating what the pizza would be worth each day. At Bitcoin’s peak price in November 2021, the pizzas would have been worth $680 million dollars.
Some argue that this is a moot point, as the digital currency had barely any value back in 2010 and was less commonly recognized as a store-of-value. For example, the concept of HODL (which refers to holding onto your cryptocurrency) didn’t come about until around 2014.
Hanyecz is patient in interviews, saying he has no regrets about the purchase and that he appreciates being a part of Bitcoin history.
“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."
Impact on Bitcoin community
The crypto community uses Bitcoin Pizza Day to reflect how far blockchain technology has come in such a short time. Satoshi’s Bitcoin whitepaper was released in October 2008, with the first Bitcoin created and transferred in January 2009. Hanyecz bought his bitcoin pizza the following year.
The creation of Bitcoin and the first recognized Bitcoin transaction occurred at a significant period of transition in the global economy. These events came in the midst of the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis, the worst since the Great Depression, and many had become wary of the established financial system and controversial economic recovery policies. With its vision of a money system separate from large organizations or governments, Bitcoin was gaining traction.
In 2010, no one knew that crypto would become a trillion-dollar market a little over a decade later, but the pizza purchase set a precedent for what a real-life transaction looks like using crypto to buy physical assets.
Bitcoin Pizza Day celebrations
The legacy of Bitcoin Pizza Day continues. Many members of the crypto community celebrate Bitcoin pizza day by ordering two pizzas to share, and market watchers note that bitcoin trading volume increases on May 22. Some participating pizza parlors accept bitcoin in exchange for pizza on May 22, and third-party services also facilitate purchasing pizza using your bitcoin.
However you choose to celebrate, happy Bitcoin Pizza Day!
Bitcoin Pizza Day essentials
- On May 22, 2010, programmer Laszlo Hanyecz paid 10,000 bitcoin to have pizza ordered, collected, and delivered to his house.
- The pizza purchase marked the first recognized time Bitcoin was used in a real-world transaction.
- Crypto enthusiasts celebrate May 22 as Bitcoin Pizza Day, usually by buying pizza to share.