By BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Hunter Kahn could have bought the 1990s Corvette he’s always wanted with the Wall Street windfall he and a group of amateur day traders earned by joining forces to turn the failing video-game seller GameStop into an overnight stock market darling.
But the 20-year-old Cornell University mechanical engineering student from Minnesota said he saw the bonanza as a chance to do something good. He said he cashed out $30,000 of the GameStop stock he bought at $30 a share last month and used part of the proceeds to buy a bunch of Nintendo Switch Lite handheld consoles and video games from GameStop stores, of course, and donated them to patients at Children’s Minnesota hospital.
“I wanted my donations to be GameStop purchases since this is how it all started, and there’s no one more deserving of Nintendo Switches than some kids going through a hard time,” Kahn told ABC News in a video interview.
Officials at Children’s Minnesota told ABC News that the surprise contribution Kahn made to their donation box this week has already put smiles on the faces of sick children being treated at the Minneapolis hospital.
“We’re grateful for donations that help bring joy to kids at our hospitals, especially during these challenging times,” hospital officials said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday. “The generosity of our community makes a difference to kids whose worlds have been turned upside down because of a health crisis.”
GameStop had been trading for less than $5 a share in August and most Wall Street traders had given the company up for dead as its brick-and-mortar stores suffered gravely due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stiff competition from online gaming retailers. One Wall Street newsletter, Citron Research, even tweeted on Jan. 19 that GameStop stock buyers were like “suckers at this poker game.”
Kahn and millions of other renegade retail investors who communicate on Reddit’s WallStreetBets online forum upended the financial markets last month when they set out to prove the professional stock prognosticators wrong. They went on a mass buying spree of GameStop shares, sending the stock soaring from a low of $17.23 on Jan. 5 to a high of $483 on Jan. 28.
“This is somewhat a transfer of power from the big guys to the little guys, or at least an eye-awakening, saying, ‘Hey, we’re just as much in this game as you guys are. There’s nothing special about y’all,” Kahn said.
But with the transfer of power, Kahn said he saw an obligation to do something morally beneficial.
“It would be meaningless if the money went from one side to the other and we behaved in the way that we’re criticizing the top dogs,” Kahn said. “So we have to change up our manner of behavior in some way and I thought that it would be appropriate if I used my money for good, to help prevent myself from becoming a man in a suit.”
He said he had to go to several GameStop stores to buy nine Nintendo Switches and nine video games to give to Children’s Minnesota hospital.
“I know that a lot of my friends, a lot of people around me in my community, have spent time at Children’s,” Kahn said of why he chose to donate to the hospital.
He said he showed up at the hospital this week unannounced with the video-game haul.
“I just walked up to the front desk. I didn’t actually get to give them out to the kids or anything like that. I’m sure that even without COVID there are security reasons why they can’t do that, which would make sense,” Kahn said. “But they made it super easy to donate. I just walked in, walked up to the front desk and said, ‘Hey, I’d like to give you guys these Switches.’ And the dude sitting there was like, ‘Oh, awesome. Thank you."”
He said it’s “amazing to hear” the patients at Children’s Minnesota are already using the gaming devices.
“I have been very fortunate in life and I have so much time ahead of me still,” Kahn said. “This donation, I can easily come back from it and I will continue to do donations in the future, hopefully, if things keep going well for myself. It feels better than when you wake up in the morning and you see that you made some money.”
Kahn said he began investing in the stock market as a high school senior with the goal of saving up $12,000 “to buy a ’90s Corvette to impress my crush.” He said that despite the success he and his ragtag day-trading cohorts have experienced, he has no plans to change his major to finance.
“I do not want to work as an investment banker or anything of the sort,” he said. “I want to build spaceships for (SpaceX and Tesla CEO) Elon Musk as a mechanical engineer.”
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