When 50 Cent agreed to accept bitcoin for purchases of his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, a unit of the cryptocurrency was already worth hundreds of dollars — but the value of those sales has since skyrocketed and the rapper's bitcoin holding is now reportedly worth more than $7.5 million.
"Not Bad for a kid from South Side, I'm so proud of me," 50 Cent wrote in an Instagram post citing TMZ's story about his unexpected windfall. Alongside emojis of a sack of money and a person holding up their hands in a "What?" pose, he added, "LOL."
In an additional comment that could either amaze or exasperate people who would love to find a pile of money, 50 Cent added, "I'm a keep it real. I forgot I did that s***."
TMZ reports that Animal Ambition brought the rapper around 700 bitcoins — worth several hundred thousand dollars at the time and around $7.7 million at today's rate.
The story of 50 Cent's bitcoin windfall is emerging just a few years after the rapper filed for bankruptcy protection under his given name, Curtis Jackson. As NPR reported in 2016, "He says he's broke, but he posted Instagram photos showing piles of cash in a refrigerator."
Back when 50 Cent released his 2014 album, bitcoin was mostly known as a "virtual currency" that was still trying to push its way into the mainstream. The game company Zynga accepted it for some purchases, as did Dell and electronics retailer Newegg — and by the end of the year, so did Microsoft.
Even in 2014, bitcoin's price was fluctuating wildly, vulnerable to news of government clampdowns and hackers' attacks on exchanges. The currency's value had topped $1,000 in 2013; when 50 Cent's album came out in the summer of 2014, one bitcoin was worth more than $600. Today, a bitcoin is worth more than $11,000. Last month, it nearly reached $20,000.
50 Cent released Animal Ambition through his G-Unit Records, along with Virgin's Caroline Records. His fifth album, it fell far short of the huge sales figures of his first album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. But in a twist, one partial explanation for that slump — the digitizing of a medium that was once exclusively material — also helps explain why its proceeds are now worth millions, as bitcoin's value has risen to stratospheric heights.
Animal Ambition included songs such as the now-ironically-named "Chase the Paper." 50 Cent described it to Complex magazine as being about prosperity and entrepreneurial energy.
In an update on the album's bitcoin proceeds this week, Complex noted, "50 has proven his business acumen time and time again. It's how he got rich and didn't die trying."