New Poll Shows 28% of Americans Bought GameStock or Other “Meme” Stock in January

In a surprising poll, Yahoo Finance and Harris found that some twenty-eight percent of Americans bought GameStock or similar viral stocks in the month of January. While the extreme popularity of these stocks was not in doubt, the raw numbers are eye-opening.

The GameStock short squeeze was largely kick-started by online message board through communities like the subreddit “Wall Street Bets,” and was fueled by a degree of populism and tongue-in-cheek humor.

Many retail investors involved in the short squeeze saw the frenzy as a David and Goliath story, with the “little guy” taking it to the wealthy Wall Street hedge funds. The massive struggle over the stock caused GameStop’s trading price to go crazy, as millions of retail investors pulled hard the other direction while hedge funds sunk money into shorting the company.

Meme Stocks by the Numbers

The poll showed that, while GameStop was popular, it wasn’t the most-purchased of the viral stocks. That honor went to AMC Theaters, which was bought by ten percent of the population of the US in January.

GameStop, meanwhile, was only bought by nine percent. Other top-scoring stocks from last month include Castor Maritime, BlackBerry, Nokia, and dozens of other viral stocks driven by internet investors.

All added up, some twenty-eight percent of Americans bought at least one of these “meme” stocks, showing that there is a massive appetite for this kind of populism-driven investing.

The survey found these investors weren’t, on average, going in for a lot of money. The median investment , the poll finds, was $150, likely owing largely to the $600 stimulus checks that were sent out in January.

Why Was the Number so High?

Experts believe a combination of factors led to a perfect retail investing storm for the “average Joe” investor. Firstly, the pandemic has greatly reduced the average middle-class American’s spending.

If you can’t go on vacation, to the movies, to the mall, or to the sports stadium, where are you spending your money? This, combined with the direct checks in the January stimulus, and little else to do, due to the pandemic, one can see how the moment was just right for this kind of explosion.

Interestingly, however, the poll showed that only fifteen percent of respondents actually bought in due to the “David and Goliath” narrative seen on Reddit. More people than that bought one of these stocks thanks to the advice of a financial advisor.

Interestingly enough, while the frenzy was initially spurred by such populist messaging, it may have been sustained by legitimate and sound financial advice that saw an opportunity to make some money on the market.

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