The social media movement that made a beloved icon of GameStop enthusiast Keith Gill continued to rally behind the YouTube personality known as Roaring Kitty as he testified to Congress on Thursday about his role in last month's stock market frenzy.
Gill, 34, reaped a big profit in the troubled video-game company after months talking about GameStop stock on his YouTube channel and on the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, where he went by the pseudonym DFV, for “deep value” plus an expletive.
But on Thursday he rejected suggestions that he played a key role in the GameStop frenzy, arguing his social media conversations sharing analysis of company fundamentals were no different from what people do at bars, golf courses or with family members.
“The idea that I used social media to promote GameStop stock to unwitting investors and influence the market is preposterous,” Gill told lawmakers. “My posts did not cause the movement of billions of dollars into GameStop shares.”
But Gill did acknowledge that some investors jumped in too late. GameStop shares soared as high as $483 in January but have since fallen back, trading Thursday afternoon at around $45.
“It is tragic that some people lost money and my heart goes out to them,” Gill said.
Along with congressional scrutiny, Gill is now facing an investigative inquiry from a Massachusetts state regulator and a class-action lawsuit claiming he misrepresented himself as an amateur investor while persuading other investors to buy GameStop shares. Gill was registered as a broker-dealer and worked as a “financial wellness educational director” for insurance company MassMutual while he was sharing his thoughts on GameStop online.
Gill was brought up in Brockton, Massachusetts, where his father was a truck driver and his mother a nurse. He was the first in his family to get a four-year college degree.
He said he began analyzing stocks as a hobby and to supplement his income. He took to social media to trade tips and help work out his ideas with other individual investors about stocks like GameStop, a phenomenon he said is helping to level the playing field for smaller investors.
“Ultimately my GameStop investment was a success,” he wrote in prepared remarks. “But the thing is, I felt that way in December far before the peak, when the stock was at $20 a share. I was so happy to visit my family in Brockton for the holidays and give them the great news – we were millionaires.”