GameStop booster did well; many devotees won’t as shares sag

WILMINGTON, Mass. (AP) — “IF HE’S STILL IN, I’M STILL IN,” was the constant refrain from followers of Roaring Kitty, the YouTube personality whose enthusiasm about buying stock in video-game retailer GameStop made him an icon in the social media frenzy that shocked Wall Street last week.

His hometown newspaper in Massachusetts dubbed him a “Brockton legend,” stirring dreams about how the former high school running champion might use his newfound riches to build the city an indoor track. Hollywood studios started sketching out movie proposals about the small-pocketed investors who banded together on social media to vault a troubled brick-and-mortar chain “to the moon” and punish hedge funds that were betting on its failure.

But what was a big victory for Roaring Kitty, a 34-year-old whose real name is Keith Gill, is turning into hardship for followers who jumped on the bandwagon and took risky bets on GameStop’s rollercoaster ride in the stock market.

GameStop shares dropped 42% on Thursday, continuing to plummet from a high of $483 a week ago to around $53. That’s still above the $17 they fetched at the start of the year.

The GameStop saga is also raising complications for Gill, who now faces an inquiry from a Massachusetts state regulator over potential conflicts of interest because of his work as a licensed securities broker and “financial wellness education director” for insurance company MassMutual. The regulator’s letter to MassMutual was first reported by the New York Times.

The company told the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office that it had previously denied a request from Gill to engage in outside business activity. His last day at the job was Jan. 28.

Gill is also on a list of people who might be called to Congress to testify, said Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who leads the House Committee on Financial Services. “I want him here,” she told the Cheddar financial news channel.

Similarly, the heads of several regulatory agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve Board and others, met with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to discuss “recent financial market volatility.”

Doubts emerged about GameStop and its online boosters this week as the stock plunged, spelling trouble for novice investors who got in too late, bought too high and found themselves caught up in an epic story of battling against the 1%.

“I was a little late to the game,” said Will Binette, 21, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who bought one share of GameStop last week when it was $380. “I don’t really care that I’m losing that much money. It’s about sending a message and redistributing the wealth.”

Binette doesn’t fault Gill, calling him a smart investor who made a “phenomenal profit.” Instead, Binette said, it was the broader community of investors on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets that persuaded him “we can get back at Wall Street for the 2008 crash.”

Gill’s closest…

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