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Jamaican bobsled team boosts value of Dogecoin, currency based on meme

OlympicsWinter OlympicsSportsBobsledding

Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency based on a popular Internet meme, saw its value greatly increase Monday as the result of the Jamaican bobsled team's crowdfunding efforts to get to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Jamaican athletes Winston Watt and Marvin Dixon learned Saturday that they had qualified for the 2014 Olympics, but not long after, they revealed that they did not have enough money or any sponsors to fund their trip to Russia. But such obstacles did not make them give up -- instead, they turned to the Internet and asked for donations.

Since then, Jamaican Olympic officials have said they and the Sochi Organizing Committee would cover all travel costs for the two, the Associated Press reported.

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However, the fundraising for equipment continues. "The money's not all covered yet," Watt told the AP. "We're still hoping for help. But I am very excited that we're officially qualified."

Spurred by warm memories of "Cool Runnings," the '90s cult-classic film about the Jamaican bobsled team that qualified for the 1988 Olympics, the Internet has quickly sprung up many crowdfunding campaigns to support Watt and Dixon.

Liam Butler, a fan of the film and the man in charge of the Dogecoin Foundation, started one of those campaigns, calling it Dogesled. Much to Butler's surprise, Dogesled quickly took off, with many Dogecoin owners donating to the cause. Already, the campaign has raised more than $36,000 for the athletes. 

But the donations have paid off for more than just Watt and Dixon. As a result of all the transactions, the Dogecoin-to-Bitcoin exchange rate rose by 50% within 12 hours, according to the Guardian.

"Myself and Jackson Palmer [the creator of Dogecoin] were at a local pub trivia in Sydney when we noticed the value of Dogecoin had more than doubled since we'd last checked so we raced back to my house to ensure we could get the best price for the donations in a form the team could actually use," Butler told the Guardian. "As much as we have faith in Dogecoin to become the community currency of the Internet, we still understand that the team need to buy their airfares in a fiat currency."

Along with campaigns on Indiegogo and Crowdtilt, it appears the Dogecoin community will be able to get the Jamaicans up and running for the Sochi Olympics.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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