AP

“Mr. Kitty” goes virtually to Washington over GameStop saga

Feb 19, 2021, 5:39 AM | Updated: 5:44 am
In this image from video provided by the House Financial Services Committee, Keith Gill, a GameStop...
In this image from video provided by the House Financial Services Committee, Keith Gill, a GameStop investor, also known in social media forums as Roaring Kitty, testifies during a virtual hearing on GameStop in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Lawmakers are examining whether the wild swings in the stock price of the video game retailer exposed conflicts in the market's structure that can hurt unsophisticated investors. (House Financial Services Committee via AP)
(House Financial Services Committee via AP)

The social media movement that made a beloved icon of GameStop enthusiast Keith Gill continued to rally behind the YouTube personality known as Roaring Kitty as he testified to Congress on Thursday about his role in last month’s stock market frenzy.

“Today, the world shall know his name,” cheered one online fan on the social media website Reddit, superimposing a headshot of Gill over a boxer’s body.

The 34-year-old Gill became the most visible face of the GameStop rally largely because of his videos, where he wore a red headband and colorful, cat-themed T-shirts as he spent hours each week talking about the stock from the basement of his home in a suburb of Boston.

For the virtual hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services, Gill wore a jacket and tie, although the headband could be seen hanging on a poster of a kitten with the words “Hang in There!” —- a crowd-pleasing reference to people still holding onto GameStop shares after its remarkable rollercoaster rise and fall.

Gill reaped a big profit in the troubled video-game company after months talking about GameStop stock on his YouTube channel and on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, where he went by the pseudonym DFV, for ‘deep value’ plus an expletive.

But on Thursday he rejected suggestions that he played a key role in the GameStop frenzy, arguing his social media conversations sharing analysis of company fundamentals were no different than what people do at bars, golf courses or with family members at home.

“The idea that I used social media to promote GameStop stock to unwitting investors and influence the market is preposterous,” Gill told lawmakers. “My posts did not cause the movement of billions of dollars into GameStop shares.”

Gill did acknowledge that some investors jumped in too late. GameStop shares soared as high as $483 in January but have since fallen back, trading Thursday afternoon at around $45.

“It is tragic that some people lost money and my heart goes out to them,” Gill said.

Gill’s testimony won plaudits Thursday from WallStreetBets members on Reddit and the live-chatting service Discord.

“A congressman is now on record congratulating DFV for his DIAMOND HANDS,” one Reddit user posted, referring to an exchange between Gill and Republican Rep. Warren Davidson from Ohio, alluding to WallStreetsBets lingo — typically accompanied with diamond emojis — for when an investor perseveres with a stock despite big risks.

Lawmakers on Thursday seemed far less interested in probing Gill than in other panelists representing Wall Street hedge funds and other bigger players. Some of the toughest questions went to the CEO of smartphone-based investment service Robinhood, which was widely criticized for restricting trading of GameStop and other volatile stocks for more than a day.

But along with congressional scrutiny, Gill is now facing an investigative inquiry from a Massachusetts state regulator and a class-action lawsuit claiming he misrepresented himself as an amateur investor while convincing other investors to buy GameStop shares. Gill was registered as a broker-dealer and worked as a “financial wellness educational director” for insurance company MassMutual while he was sharing his thoughts on GameStop online.

Gill emphasized to lawmakers his humble upbringing in Brockton, Massachusetts, where his father was a truck driver, his mother a nurse, and Gill was the first in his family to get a 4-year college degree but then struggled to keep steady work as he attempted a career in finance.

He said he began analyzing stocks as a hobby and to supplement his income. He took to social media to trade tips and help work out his ideas with other individual investors about stocks like GameStop, a phenomenon he said is helping to level the playing field for smaller investors.

“Ultimately my GameStop investment was a success,” he wrote in prepared written remarks. “But the thing is, I felt that way in December far before the peak, when the stock was at $20 a share. I was so happy to visit my family in Brockton for the holidays and give them the great news — we were millionaires.”

Gill said he analyzed stocks on his own time and got curious about GameStop in June 2019, after it began trading at a deep discount after a poor quarterly earnings report. He bought call options and increased his position throughout 2019 and 2020, convinced that the stock price was “dramatically undervalued.”

With options, an investor can pay a few dollars for the right to buy a stock at a later date at a certain price. If the stock hits or surpasses that target, investors can reap a bigger return than if they simply bought a share.

One Redditor going by the name Bruchtime27 penned an ode to Gill that began: “I love you man.”

“You did your homework for years, learning about the market and understanding what your strategy would be, all while talking care of your family and no doubt just being an all-around good dude through some incredibly difficult times since ‘08,” the user wrote.

As they celebrated Gill, many commenters on Reddit and Discord launched profanity-ridden tirades against the other panelists testifying at the hearing, particularly Vlad Tenev, Robinhood’s CEO, and executives from short-selling hedge funds that lost big after placing bets that the stock would drop.

——

AP reporters Marcy Gordon and Alex Veiga contributed to this report.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
1 day ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
3 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
4 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
5 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
5 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
“Mr. Kitty” goes virtually to Washington over GameStop saga