Today is Bitcoin Pizza Day. Eight years ago, on May 22, 2010, a programmer purchased two large Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, worth about $30 at the time. It’s widely believed to be the first purchase of a product with bitcoin, proving the then-nascent cryptocurrency’s potential as a means of payment.
Bitcoin was less than two years old when Laszlo Hanyecz decided to spend some of the coins he had mined on some real-world goods. The coins were worth just a fraction of a cent at the time, and no merchant accepted them as a means of payment. So he posted on the main gathering place for bitcoiners at the time, the Bitcointalk forum:
I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe 2 large ones so I have some left over for the next day. I like having left over pizza to nibble on later. You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!
Another user, who went by “jercos” on the forum, took Hanyecz up on his offer. Hanyecz sent the bitcoin to jercos, who then placed the pizza order. The transaction had to be finalized over internet relay chat, according to the Bitcoin Wiki. Since then, the price of bitcoin has taken off, and those two pizzas would be worth a lot more at the going rate for 10,000 bitcoins. How much more? Roughly $82 million for the order, or more than $4 million per slice:
This February, Hanyecz made a similar transaction, sending about $67 worth of bitcoin—that is, 0.00649 of a bitcoin—to a friend in London for two pizzas delivered to him in Florida. The coins were sent over the Lightning Network, a system that bitcoiners hope will keep bitcoin transaction fees low.
Hanyecz’s point with making another pizza purchase? To prove that bitcoin could remain a viable payment system with the addition of the Lightning Network. “Maybe eventually pizza shops will have their own Lightning nodes and I can open channels to them directly,” he wrote on the mailing list for Lightning developers.