For a few years now Bitcoin has been on many people's lips. The massive rise in its value and gradual acceptance by mainstream merchants has many believing that bitcoins will be the currency of the future, especially for businesses like offshore gambling that try to avoid the traditional banking system. But bitcoin is not the only virtual currency out there. In North America Litecoin and Namecoin have been widely accepted and recently Dogecoin (with an Innu dog as its logo) has become the preferred virtual currency of choice in many places overseas. Even though dogecoins were only released in December of 2013 the currency has risen in value much more quickly and efficiently than bitcoin (albeit each dogecoin is still only worth about a tenth of a cent) mainly because they can be traded and used for purchases without the involvement of a third party. Dogecoin's rapid release has created a huge community of users with a surprising preponderance of them on the social media site Reddit. And many people on the dogecoin community in Reddit have been using dogecoins as a form of fundraising. Earlier this year dogecoin and Reddit raised $30,000 to help send the Jamaican bobsled team to Sochi and they raised $7,000 to send an Indian luger, Shiva Keshavan, to the games as well. So one very young NASCAR fan and dogecoin owner in the /r/NASCAR subreddit section decided to try and raise money to help Josh Wise, an unsponsored driver in the Sprint Cup Series, run in the Talladega 499. People could send their donation by cash or dogecoin.
The exact posting by the NASCAR fan with the Reddit username 'unicorn_butt_sex' was as follows:
"I realized that the driver of the number 98 Chevrolet SS, Josh Wise was sponsorless. He was racing the wheels off the car. He was fighting his underfunded team's car like he stole it. Sadly the car was just black with no sponsors. I know it's not the Chevy but it's the same. Now there are millions of people watching NASCAR every week. There are two major races that are very exciting and people are digging to watch. The track name? Talladega. It is known for its big one and it's exciting. Now imagine a Doge. A Doge that is going 200 MPH into victory lane. Anyone can win Dega. Underfunded or not, for example last year's race where David Regan and the underfunded team brought home the win. Now imagine on TV. DOGE DOGE DOGE DOGE DOGE every time he talks about his car. "This Doge Ford Fusion is fast today." Every time they talk about the car.
Why: Huge publicity of course! Millions watch it! Also to get Josh and his team a chance!
When: Doesn't matter. They race every week but the big race tracks like Talladega and Daytona they can bring home a win.
How Much? You can get a full sponsored car with a wrap all over the car with a huge Doge on the hood and quarter panel for a lot of money. You can negotiate with the team. I roughly don't know how much. Although you don't have to get the whole car. You can just get the rear quarter panel. You will still be able to get publicity. We can go as low as a little sticker on the B pillar. Depends how much we raise and if we can raise.
LETS DO THIS!"
When Phil Parsons, Josh Wise's team owner, heard about the plan he agreed to put dogecoin on the hood of the 98 car if the NASCAR and dogecoin communities on Reddit could raise $55,000. Apparently Josh Wise, who is considered a techie and has adapted the username 'dogedriver' loved the idea as well. And believe it or not it worked. The NASCAR and Dogecoin communities on Reddit raised the money and Wise finished 20th in Talladega. The next race of interest for all parties involved was the all-star race. Under the rules of the all-star race all past champions and series race winners this year and last year are automatically given a spot in the all-star race while the rest of the drivers have to race their way in by finishing first or second in the Sprint Showdown the night before. There is one last spot that is given to the fan favorite, i.e. the driver who receives the most fan votes cast online. Unlike with baseball all-star voting there is no limit to the amount of votes that can be cast by a computer either for fan favorite. It seemed clear that Wise had no shot at getting into the all-star race since his car wasn't good enough to finish first or second in the Showdown and the fan favorite was almost certain to go to Danica Patrick. That was the case until Wise's car owner Phil Parsons gave the communities on Reddit a proposition – if the communities could somehow figure a way to vote Wise in as fan favorite then Parsons would put dogecoin on the hood again as the sponsor for the all-star race. This was a great deal for all. As a participant in the all-star race Parsons was guaranteed at least $70,000 and dogecoin would get more free advertising.
To the shock of almost everyone once the Showdown ended and Wise finished well back, NASCAR announcer Darrell Waltrip told Wise that he won the fan vote and would be racing in the all-star race. Wise himself said he was a bit surprised but realized there was a chance that the Reddit and dogecoin users could come through for him:
"I saw the potential there. There's 110 million people that regularly use Reddit, and there was a large portion of them that knew about this and were a part of it, I felt like. It's one of those things where you didn't know if people were just telling you they were voting for you or how many times they were voting, so I thought it was definitely a possibility."
Naturally the vote caused an outcry among NASCAR enthusiasts. After all, Josh Wise being voted fan favorite makes about as much sense as Tuffy Gosewich winning the most popular baseball player in Major League Baseball and NASCAR fans want to ensure it never happens again. Unfortunately the Reddit communities have indeed tried to ensure it does happen again. A Josh Wise fan with the username votedogecar on Reddit posted a new mission to get Josh Wise voted as the most popular driver in NASCAR. Posting under the title "Next Mission Let's make sure Wowise wins 'The Most Popular Driver Award!'" The exact wording of that title was as follows:
"I asked Josh if he wants to win the "most popular driver" award (voting starts soon). He said "absolutely!"
/u/dogedriver is my hero. Like many of you, I didn't care for and never watched NASCAR before Talladogea. Now I'm a Josh Wise fan for life. Josh and his crew inspired me to make VoteDogecar.com. #98 is going above and beyond in his unanticipated role as unofficial ambassador for dogecoin.
Let's make sure our champion wins this prestigious award.
I want to plan this drive for dogedriver better than our all-star strategy. I think we can learn from our mistakes in the all-star fan vote (our execution wasn't flawless -- I fibbed for example).
But he did win, and I think that's the most important thing. So let's make sure he wins again.
1. Most Popular Driver Award voting opens sometime this month and closes November 16th
2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has won it 11 years in a row
3. There were only 1 million total votes cast last year
4. Voting seems to be limited to once every 24 hours (IP and/or email limitation)
5. We need the whole community to band together to win this one. We can't just rely on a few high volume shibes. This one will be slow and steady, and entirely dependent upon how many shibes vote once per day
What We Need
1. Ideas on a more perfect execution (making sure Josh wins)
2. Volunteers for VoteDogecar.com (re-design, admin staff, ideas for improvement, etc.)
3. Individual commitments to vote once per day (each and every shibe can make this pledge)
5. [Insert your idea here]"
The threat to this happening is now quite real to the point that NASCAR pushed back the date to start voting for Most Popular Driver. NASCAR attributed the new July date to the fact that the most valuable driver award has a new sponsor but insiders assured me that NASCAR is just trying to avoid as similar fate to last time and are looking at alternatives that will scuttle the Reddit/dogecoin plans. After all Dale Earnhardt Jr. sells merchandise and tickets, Josh Wise doesn't. Sports fans are furious and one diehard Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan told me that if Wise wins Most Popular driver to "an absolute nobody who can only get voted in by a b*llshit currency that can only be used for things like gambling, drugs and porn" that he would make it his mission to destroy all virtual currency in the future including bitcoins, dogecoins or any other virtual coin that is developed. How he plans to do that is uncertain.
Not surprisingly, communities that aren't related to sports are also looking to see if they can somehow manipulate voting to get their favorites a win whether it's a TV show like American Idol or another competition that uses online voting to choose winners.
The Internet has certainly created a lot of new nuances and virtual currencies, whether you believe in them or not, are causing quite a stir since they can be used in ways that other currencies aren't. One just wonders how long it will be before Bitcoin or Dogecoin are the sponsors of stadiums or sports teams. And more importantly it will be interesting to see how league commissioners will respond if these virtual currencies (which are being used for online gambling) make an impact in their sports.
Does Josh Wise deserve to be voted most valuable driver? Hell no. But it's certainly fun to watch NASCAR squirm at the possibility of that happening.