On Tuesday, cultural chronicle of record TMZ reported that an unnamed source revealed to them that rapper 50 Cent is currently sitting on a fortune in Bitcoin.
As it turns out, according to TMZ, 50 Cent sold his 2014 album Animal Ambition for 700 bitcoins but never collected the profits. The funds have apparently been sitting untouched since then, and are now worth $7.7 million USD. 50 Cent seemed to confirm the account in a series of Instagram posts, including a now-deleted comment stating that he forgot he even “did that shit.”
All in all, it’s a pretty amazing entry into the well-trod genre of “I forgot about my Bitcoin” apocrypha. Hell, The Big Bang Theory did it. But here’s the thing—50 Cent’s newfound wealth isn’t just in Bitcoin. The TMZ report and follow-ups all missed one crucial fact: 50 Cent, like everybody else who prefers to hold on to their bitcoins, also technically owns equivalent balances in all the cryptocurrencies that have recently split off from Bitcoin, called “forks.”
With these forked coins taken into account, 50 Cent’s Bitcoin balance of $7.7 million is actually worth roughly $9.2 million.
A fork copies Bitcoin’s open source code to create a new, separate currency. Crucially, forks also copy the entire Bitcoin blockchain—the decentralized ledger at the heart of the system—up until a certain point. Since bitcoins only exist as entries on that ledger, forks instantly create mirror balances for everybody who currently owns them.
The first Bitcoin fork, now called Bitcoin Cash, was created on August 1 of 2017 and today has a market cap of $27 billion, compared to Bitcoin’s $186 billion. That fork opened the floodgates—to assess 50 Cent’s wealth in forked coins, I counted Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Super Bitcoin, Bitcoin Platinum, and Bitcore, all of which were created within the last year. The breakdown in USD looks like this:
Bitcoin Cash: $1,120,000
Bitcoin Diamond: $133,000
Bitcoin Gold: $130,200
Super Bitcoin: $70,000
Bitcoin Platinum: $36,400
To redeem these balances, 50 Cent just has to plug his Bitcoin address into software for that particular coin. All this is to say, it’s a great day for the rich getting richer.