The story of how one enterprising Bitcoiner spent $260,000,000 on a pie is a timeless tale of the first time Bitcoin proved it could be used for real-world transactions. It was a moment that sparked widespread interest in blockchain technology at a time when Bitcoin was still in its infancy.
Today, Bitcoin Pizza Day is a celebration of not just the growth of Bitcoin, but its potential to transform even small, everyday transactions.
The Transaction That Started Bitcoin Pizza Day
The year was 2010, and Bitcoin was in its early infancy. Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper had come out less than two years earlier, and the very first Bitcoin transaction was processed just 14 months prior. Meanwhile, Laszlo Hanyecz was hungry. He wasn’t just hungry for pizza, but also to prove that the cryptocurrency he believed in could be used in the real world.
Unfortunately Papa John’s didn’t share his ambition, which meant that Laszlo had to get creative. Hoping to find more like-minded folks than he could at Papa John’s, he posted an offer to Bitcointalk.com:
"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. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I'm aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don't have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a 'breakfast platter' at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you're happy!
I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire.
If you're interested please let me know and we can work out a deal."
Jeremy Sturdivant, then a bright-eyed 19-year-old, answered the call. Armed with the cash value of 10,000 BTC – then about $41 – Jeremy made it happen. Sturdivant ended up ordering the two pizzas and Hanyecz sent him the BTC.
What Was the Bitcoin Pizza Purchase Really About?
More than anything, this is a story of how far Bitcoin as a technology – and the crypto community surrounding it – has come. Nowadays, you can buy much more with Bitcoin – pizza included.
To frame this milestone a bit differently, let’s take a closer look at where Bitcoin was in 2010. Prior to the first halving in 2012, the block reward for miners was 50 BTC. A minter would need to mine 200 blocks to come up with 10,000 BTC. Back then, that was far less difficult to do given how relatively few people were in the space. But now, given a block reward of 6.25 BTC, you’d need to mine 1,600 blocks to reap the same reward. However, the game has changed very, very much since then.
Laszlo Hanyecz told CBS in 2019 he thinks his 2010 pizza order, “made [bitcoin] real for some people. It certainly did for me.”
Bitcoin Pizza Day's Legacy
At the time of writing, it would take just 0.0014 BTC to make that same order (well… maybe not, since USD inflation means that order would be far more than $41). Now, more than a quarter million Bitcoin transactions happen every single day across the globe, and as the world continues to discover the power of this technology, Bitcoin Pizza Day is celebrated far and wide on May 22.
In May 2021, Anthony Pompliano launched Bitcoin Pizza, a national pizza brand that raised funds for the Human Rights Foundation’s Bitcoin Development Fund.
The same year, Huobi and Binance launched pizza-based competitions around the anniversary, with Binance offering the winner of an NFT competition $52,200 worth of pizza.
Plenty of smaller celebrations happen around the globe to celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day and the order of two large pizzas that Hanyecz made. Some Bitcoiners are of the opinion that Sturdivant is the true hero of the story. After all, that BTC would be worth much more today if Sturdivant had held on to it.
But of course, Sturdivant didn’t pocket the BTC, and that’s what makes this whimsical story of the first real-world use of Bitcoin a story of triumph, as well. It’s why we’re still celebrating it all these years later. Simply put, it’s not a story of how one man spent more than a quarter billion dollars on a pizza order. It’s a story of the first step of a technological revolution that has resonated throughout the entire world.
Celebrating Bitcoin Pizza Day and The Growth of Cryptocurrencies
Needless to say, the Bitcoin community and the crypto community at large have come a long way since early Bitcoin users began exploring the technology. Today, many institutions and companies are allowing their customers to use bitcoin in transactions and purchases, and mainstream adoption of BTC has been gradually increasing year on year.
But more importantly, Hanyecz's order of two Papa John's Pizzas demonstrated early on how cryptocurrencies could be used to facilitate a common everyday transaction between individuals. Ultimately, Bitcoin was created so that users themselves could employ their digital assets for seamless and trustless transactions in their daily lives.
That vision of empowering individuals to make their own decisions about their own assets has helped Bitcoin grow into the rich ecosystem it is today.