(Jamaican bobsled team photo: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
It's looking like Jamaica's bobsled team will once again be headed to the Olympics — thanks to skill, a lot of training and a virtual currency named "Dogecoin."
The team will be competing at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi next month, marking their first appearance since 2002. The only problem? Funding. Over the weekend, the team's pilot Winston Watts told BBC that they were short about $40,000 after paying over $100,000 out of their own pockets in an attempt to qualify. So they turned to the internet to try to make up the difference — and boy did it work out.
As The Verge reports, the largest share of the money — more than $30,000 US — came from a pack of Dogecoin enthusiasts on Reddit. You may not have heard of Dogecoin, but you've probably heard of Bitcoin, the open source "cryptocurrency" that has been picking up steam since 2009.
Dogecoin is a spinoff of Bitcoin that has proven surprisingly popular since former IBM engineer Billy Markus introduced it late last year. It's named after a meme that has been bubbling around the internet for a year or so featuring cute Photoshopped images of a shiba inu dog surrounded by a cloud of multi-coloured words usually expressing surprise or appreciation. This one's a classic:
For a great piece on the story behind Doge, check out this feature from The Verge.
The Jamaican bobsled team also received financial help through more conventional crowdfunding sites, like Crowdtilt (currently at $24,633 US) and Indiegogo (currently at $11,793 US). Between the three sites, the team is now well over the $40,000 US mark.
"Not having a team in the Olympics for so many years is sad and it's been eye-opening for the nation," Watts told BBC. "Qualifying would mean so much to Jamaica and it would be making history again."
Via The Verge