The people who have bought up GameStop stock thanks to the r/WallStreetBets subreddit have been portrayed as many things — mainly greedy, anarchistic, and chaotic.
But that doesn't paint the full picture. Take, for example, the guy who just wanted to save his dog's life.
Patrick Delgado, 33, works in construction in the Dallas–Fort Worth area. His best friend is his 2-year-old American bulldog named Satoshi Nakamoto, after the founder of bitcoin. He goes by Toshi, for short.
Recently, Delgado noticed that Toshi wasn't using one of his legs normally, so he took the dog to the vet. He got some bad news.
"They told me that he blew out his knee and that it was going to cost a minimum of 4 grand to get it fixed," Delgado told BuzzFeed News. "And because of the business struggling, I couldn’t really see a way to come up with that."
The injury is the equivalent of a torn ACL in humans and is a common problem in bulldog breeds. The vet told Delgado the devastating news that without the surgery, the best option was to euthanize Toshi.
"I couldn’t sleep that entire night and I kept trying to think of what I could do to raise the money," said Delgado. "I was going to start a GoFundMe or something, but I’ve never been the kind of person to ask for charity."
Delgado was already invested in a few stocks and in cryptocurrency, so he had a look for what could be a way to raise the money. That took him to r/WallStreetBets.
"I figured I didn’t have anything to lose," he said.
He took around $1,000 that he'd scraped together and invested in GameStop and AMC last Tuesday. At that time, GME was priced around $97. He was able to sell the next day when it was near $400, making the extra $3,000 he needed for Toshi's surgery. (BuzzFeed News reviewed screenshots of Delgado’s trading app, showing the jump in his stock’s value and his withdrawal.)
That day, he put up a post on r/WallStreetBets titled "I want to thank you guys for saving my best friends life!"
"I just wanted to thank the community with that small post and I got so much support, it was really moving and I just felt really blessed and Toshi, he’s already scheduled for surgery in another week and a half," Delgado said.
He got over 1,200 replies and said he read each one. Even though the general message in r/WallStreetBets was to hold and not sell, people were happy for Delgado and Toshi.
"I was expecting a lot of people to call me 'paper hands,' or 'weak-handed,' for selling, but people were actually super supportive," he said.
Delgado said people even messaged him offering to pay the capital gains taxes he will owe for selling the stocks.
"I got lucky. I’m very blessed. I’m in a much better mood, and I think because I’m in such a better mood, my dog is as well," he said.
Delgado said the whole experience has given him renewed hope for humanity. He said that in the 2008 market crash, his family lost their ranch and had to file for bankruptcy.
"They lost all their assets, and we ended up having to move into a small two-bedroom apartment. There were six of us in that apartment," he said.
In the wake of all that, he learned how the market works and started buying into cryptocurrency, but also learned how the system seems rigged against regular people. Seeing people now using their collective numbers to try to create a win for retail investors gives him hope that the tide could change, and he's enjoying seeing his fellow investors "get back" at the hedge funds that overshorted GameStop.
"Even if you’re playing a rigged game, at least there’s a lot of people out there that are willing to help those who are less fortunate," he said.