On the morning of April 17, two brothers in Westchester, New York, woke up to learn that they had become millionaires overnight, thanks to an unlikely wager on a cryptocurrency that was originally created as a joke.

Tommy, 38, and James, 42, who don’t want their last name revealed to protect their anonymity, had put a few hundred dollars into an odd digital asset called shiba inu coin — a spinoff of dogecoin, so basically a parody of a parody.

One coin was worth a fraction of a cent, but a friend, who happened to be a crypto expert, told them he believed it could be a big money maker

The coin’s value has grown by about 10,000% this year, according to Coinbase. It dipped about 34% after the Indian donation from Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin was announced.

They began investing with a few hundred dollars in February. They continued buying into the coin until they had about $8,000 invested, the report said.

By Thursday, the family’s investment was worth “nearly $9 million” CNN Business reported, saying it had reviewed the family’s crypto records.

It was a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the brothers, who live in Westchester county and whose wedding business was nearly destroyed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shiba Inu coin calls itself the “Dogecoin Killer,” as they share the same symbol: the Shiba Inu breed.The token was listed on India’s WazirX crypto exchange last week.Valuations on cryptocurrencies have exploded in 2021.

After years of being either ignored or sneered at by Wall Street, cryptos — including established players like bitcoin and lesser-known “altcoins”— are enjoying unprecedented investor interest.

Bitcoin is up nearly 70 per cent since January, and dogecoin, which was started as a joke and is still worth less than a dollar, is up more than 11,000 per cent, according to Coindesk.

But cryptocurrencies are also extremely risky, unregulated investments.

Prices are known to swing wildly. And digital currencies bring other unique kinds of risk, such as the potential for a hacked server, a deleted file or a lost password that could leave investors locked out of their funds forever.

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