LONDON -- Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency created as a joke in 2013, has seen its value leap in recent days, after humourous messages about it from tech billionaire Elon Musk.
The price of dogecoin, which has traded at just fractions of a cent for most of its existence, surged last week amid a buying frenzy that surrounded the GameStop saga.
Then Musk's messages on the topic, which included him dubbing it "the people's crypto" on Thursday, sent its value soaring overnight by around 50%.
The Tesla and SpaceX founder followed up the endorsement by posting a doctored image from the Lion King in which he lifts the cryptocurrency's mascot image of a Shiba Inu dog above his head in triumph.
Earlier in the week the entrepreneur had said on Clubhouse -- a social network accessible only by invitation -- that his messages on dogecoin "are really just meant to be jokes".
His seemingly ironic humor about the cryptocurrency resembles the tone of messages on online platform Reddit's WallStreetBets forum.
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A group of amateur investors sharing gifs and memes there joined forces last week against big hedge funds betting against video game store GameStop, causing its price to surge by more than 400% before falling sharply.
Despite his prior admission that his comments were jokes, Musk's tweets were enough to cause dogecoin to spike above 5 cents, before it fell back Friday to trade at 4.519 cents at 18:30 GMT, according to website CoinMarketCap.
At this price, Dogecoin's market capitalization is $5.8 billion dollars, placing it 15th in the cryptocurrency league table.
"Anything Musk tweets about shoots higher because he has such a strong following both on social media and as a businessman," said Neil Wilson, analyst for Markets.com.
Last month Musk's messages helped spur a brief boom in the better known cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Founded in 2013 by a pair of software workers, dogecoin's creators have said it was intended as an ironic response to two big internet phenomena that year.
They were cryptocurrencies, which had multiplied in the wake of bitcoin, and montages of a Shiba Inu dog image.
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"From 'that seems like it's funny' to actually doing it took about three hours," Billy Markus, a video game-obsessed software engineer at IBM, told the news website CNET.
"It's almost trivial to create a new cryptocurrency."
However, users of Reddit forums began using dogecoin, due to its previously extremely low prices, to welcome comments from posters.
After briefly climbing above a cent in 2017 -- when market interest was boosting cryptocurrencies -- the price of Dogecoin had subsided.
It crossed the one cent threshold at the beginning of the year, and has been on the rise ever since.