Anyone who expected 2021 to get off to a calm start after last year’s events is far off from the truth. This year though, instead of WW3, wildfires and other catastrophic events, the first month of the year has been dwarfed recently by the news surrounding GameStop. So how did this once doomed-to-fail company go from irrelevant to the hottest topic for weeks? It all starts with GameStop’s stock surge and the subreddit /r/WallStreetBets.

To set the stage for this momentous event, you first need to know what /r/WallStreetBets (WSB) is all about. In a nutshell, this subreddit (a community of Redditors subscribed to a specific board on the platform) is comprised of millions of members whose primary focus is risky stock market trading and, of course, making lots of memes about it.

The sub, which describes itself “as 4chan with a Bloomberg terminal,” has boomed in a relatively short period of time, with 1.1 million members in April last year, 2 million on Saturday and now over 3.3 million today. Though they’ve made headlines in the past for some of their exploits, nothing has ever come close to what’s now happening with GameStop, so let’s dig into why they’re making headlines now.

Though widespread attention to this has only been occurring in the last couple of weeks, our tale begins in September 2019 when WSB user DeepFuckingValue initially started posting each month about their GameStop (GME) stocks to the sub back when it was valued at less than a dollar. In October 2020, GameStop stock then surged for the first time from $9.36 to $13.49. Redditor nasilat made a post that same day and advised buying shares on January 15th, 2021, resulting in increased interest from WSB users. Also that day, DeepFuckingValue (who also runs the YouTube channel Roaring Kitty) posted his potential earnings from his GameStop calls, which valued at over $2.2 million from his initial $50,000 investment.

Throughout November and December heading into the new year, the…

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