After significant publicity and a rapidly appreciating conversion rate, Bitcoin is a widely recognized phenomenon. But to some extent it's also still a geeky crypto-currency held by a relatively small number of people — who, at least in a recent case, have proven themselves generous to fellow enthusiasts. Yesterday, ESPN's College Gameday picked up footage of a fan holding a sign that said "Hi Mom send Bitcoin" (using the Bitcoin symbol), then a QR code for a Bitcoin address. The fan, who identified himself on Reddit as BItcoinPitcher2, said he expected maybe a few people would scan the code and send money and wasn't even sure the code would work. Instead, a check of the address shows about 22.4 bitcoins in the wallet, or around $22,000 as of this writing. As one Redditor points out, it's always possible this was one person sending money to himself, but there's so far no sign the account was artificially seeded.
BitcoinPitcher2 has said he's going to donate the majority of the money to Bitcoin charity Sean's Outpost, which uses the currency to help the homeless in Pensacola, Florida. The response on Reddit, meanwhile, has been overwhelmingly positive. Some users see the sign and resulting donations as pure good publicity for Bitcoin: "This is a chance for us to basically buy coverage on television!" says one. "If we each send him a little ... then some producer or writer is very likely to follow up with a story about the kid and how easy it was for people worldwide to send him money with just an onscreen flash of a QR code. This could lead to more kids doing the same at other games and so forth."
Others saw it as dispelling the perception that Bitcoin users simply hoard their currency — which, considering how quickly it's gone up in value, isn't an unreasonable move. And as the above comment hints, some hope it will showcase how simple it is to send money, especially internationally. "It goes to show how quickly and efficiently wealth flows when the government and banks aren't getting in the way," says one user. The flip side of this, of course, is that bitcoins could be theoretically kept out of the government's hands entirely, but BitcoinPitcher2 says he still intends to pay taxes on his earnings. "It's the right thing to do whether or not I get caught," he writes. "And if / when I get Dox, IRS will PWN me."
Update: The first image in this article was altered with a different QR code; it's been replaced with the original.