(Bloomberg) — They say the only people who got rich in the 1849 gold rush were the merchants who sold shovels to would-be prospectors. In the 2021 gold rush for meme stocks, it may end up being the pilots of planes that tow banners who make the real money.
Airborne messages pumping shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. — similar to the banner planes that alert parched Jersey Shore tourists to where they can find a $2 Corona Light — have become a top tool of choice for the retail army that is marching in formation for this cult stock. Pilots don’t come cheap, so the self-described “apes” of the AMC message boards are looking for handouts to help the effort: $4,250 for a flight over Canada; $550 to hoist “AMC TO THE MOON HODL” above North Carolina; $3,000 to fly a similar message above Wall Street; 5,000 pounds so that the British Parliament gets the word. And so on.
The efforts are among dozens of campaigns to crowdsource funds for various AMC-related projects that have cropped up on the GoFundMe website. Though many aren’t exactly raking in the donations, the campaigns do shed a light on just how strange the cultural phenomenon surrounding the movie-theater chain has gotten. In addition to pilots, the apes seem very eager to line the pockets of any lawyers willing to join their quixotic battle against the hedge-fund short-sellers they’ve portrayed as the villains of this cinematic market drama.
“They stole from the entire country in 2008 and we paid them to do it,” reads one campaign by a self-described “dumb money ape” that has raised $100 of an ambitious $20 million goal. “They laughed all the way to the bank cashing their bonus checks. They short and manipulate the market illegally everyday. It’s right in front of the world for us all to see, to study and to prove.”
Needless to say, potential donors would be wise to do some due diligence before contributing to these efforts, regardless of how adorable they are. Like this one:
“Hello fellow Apes!” reads one pitch from a trader who’s so far only been able to buy a partial share. “I am here asking for help of any amount to buy AMC stonk! I work at my sad minimum wage job aka McDonald’s and barely have one share of AMC. Money is tight, I survive off $1 menu and eat ramen. Hopefully I will have 1 share soon!”
Another effort seeks to raise funds for its creator to dress up in an ape costume in Los Angeles and hand out bananas with an AMC pump slogan hand-written on them. Talk about a road show!
Common themes among other campaigns include helping apes or their families who have fallen on hard times, whether due to illness or depleted savings accounts among traders who bought the stock at its highs. One called “AMC Apes care for each other” sought to collect $1,000 for a mother-in-law’s funeral expenses. It has raised almost triple that amount.
Many simply implore potential donors to contribute to traders who want to buy and hold more AMC shares so they can worsen a short-squeeze among hedge funds betting against the stock. Details are scant on why exactly that would be a better strategy than the donors simply buying the shares themselves.
But the ultimate goal is to send the stock “to the moon.” The exact location of “the moon” when it comes to AMC’s share price is open for debate, but a common target price among apes is $100,000. That would make the company worth more than $51 trillion, a sum currently greater than all the companies in the S&P 500 and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index combined.
Some of the campaigns reveal how the zeal for AMC’s stock is motivated, at least in part, by nostalgia among cinephiles who are now worried about the potential extinction of big screens in the streaming era.
“I’m one of millions fighting to save our beloved AMC theater chain from hedge funds and billionaires trying to bankrupt them,” goes one pitch. “Our goal is to have musicians play songs that were played on the Titanic such as ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ outside Citadel HQ in Chicago,” a reference to Ken Griffin’s hedge-fund and market making operations that the apes have cast as their main antagonist due to Citadel Securities’ role in handling a large chunk of retail brokerage order flow. “I have two inquiries with two local orchestras in downtown Chicago.”
Who knows, maybe Griffin — who himself has reportedly been a major donor to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra — may actually enjoy the free concert.
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