I lost money because Trump and Biden didn’t mention Bitcoin during the debate

I lost money because Trump and Biden didn’t mention Bitcoin during the debate
People & cultureRegulation
Donald Trump and Joe Biden clashed in their first debate on Thursday. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off on live TV on Thursday evening.
  • I gambled on the outcome on crypto betting site Polymarket.
  • Neither of the candidates mentioned crypto.

For 90 minutes, I waited for Donald Trump to mention Bitcoin.

The former president failed to do so during his Thursday debate with current White House incumbent Joe Biden — and I’m literally poorer for it.

I had money riding on whether the real estate investor would mention the world’s biggest cryptocurrency.

And I wasn’t alone. Gamblers had piled at least $2.5 million in strange debate-related wagers on crypto-betting site Polymarket.

Those bets highlight the rising role crypto is playing in this election cycle.

The crypto lobby has assembled a $169 million war chest to fight for a more favourable policy environment.

Those efforts seem to be paying off, with both presidential candidates and many Capitol Hill politicos having warmed to the industry.

Elsewhere, a wave of politically linked memecoins have also enabled degens to profit on the zeitgeist.

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So betting on Trump to mention crypto seemed like a good idea.

It wasn’t.

Polymarket wins debate

The presidential debate, hosted by CNN, pitted two American presidents against each other for the first time in television history.

While pundits quarrel over who came out on top, I’d wager that Polymarket was a clear winner of the debate.

The betting site has emerged as one of the most successful crypto projects of this cycle.

It had almost 26,000 traders placing $86 million in bets in June alone — an almost 13-fold increase from its December volume.

Polymarket punters have, among other things, been betting on who will win the November election, with Trump coming out as the clear favourite.

On social media, Trump has shared screenshots of Polymarket bets that show him having better odds to win than Biden.

For pro-crypto pundits, those screenshots add to a sense of Trump increasingly cozying up to the industry.

Since he told crypto backers to vote for him in May, he has met with representatives of the Bitcoin mining industry, promised to pardon Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht, and his campaign has started accepting crypto donations.

Trump’s pro-crypto pivot — and the crypto lobby’s embrace of the candidate — reportedly forced Biden to try to play catch up and soften his previously antagonistic stance towards the industry.

Which brings us back to the debate bets.

Debate bets

Ahead of the public clash of two senior citizens vying for another shot at the Oval Office, punters poured into Polymarket bets.

Over $35,000 was bet on whether Biden would close his eyes for more than three seconds at any point during the debate.

Other bets included if the two candidates would shake hands, who’d be the first to take a sip of water, and if Trump would announce his vice presidential pick.

But my favourite wagers had to do with specific words the candidates might potentially utter during the event.

I bet $20 that Biden would call Trump a convicted felon, and $5 that he’d tell him to shut up.

I also gambled $5 that Trump would mention Bitcoin or crypto at some point during the conversation.

I chose these specific phrases out of 28 options because I felt the market was mispricing their odds.

I could make a 58% profit from the “convicted felon” bet, a 144% profit from the Bitcoin mention, and a 300% profit from “shut up.”

That’s if I held the wagers until the end of the debate.

Odds for the “convicted felon” and “Bitcoin mention” bet had already shot up 10% and 44% respectively since I’d purchased them on Tuesday — and I could cash them out right then, netting $4. But my “shut up” wager was deep in the red.

I decided to ride the whole thing out.


During the 90-minute spat, the two candidates covered a broad range of topics — from inflation to Russia’s war on Ukraine, from the January 6 assault on the US Capitol, to their respective golf handicaps.

They never mentioned Bitcoin.

I ended up winning one of my bets and losing two.

Biden did utter the words “convicted felon,” but didn’t explicitly tell Trump to shut up.

And Trump — despite his recent peppering of pro-crypto slogans — didn’t mention Bitcoin.

Normally, that should mean I’d pocket $11.75 from the win, and lose $10 from the two losses.

But at the time of writing, Polymarket has yet to update my balance correctly.

The platform indicated during the debate that it was experiencing issues due to massive traffic.

It’s all right.

I’m a magnanimous gambler.

I’ll wait for my $1.75.

Tom Carreras is a markets correspondent at DL News. Got a tip about Trump, Biden, and crypto? Reach out at tcarreras@dlnews.com