It took just one flicker of an idea, two minutes of typing, and four SOL. Within an hour, Michael Anderson had created a financial asset worth in excess of $25 million. 

“I’m sitting here going, ‘What the hell has just happened?’” Anderson, better known by his crypto moniker Mando, told Decrypt

The absurd tale of the asset in question, a Solana meme coin called “Epik Duck,” has particular resonance in crypto at the current moment—one in which a meme coin frenzy has resuscitated long-sagging enthusiasm within the industry, but also threatened to consume it with a naked form of gambling that typically lacks any pretense of technological progress or utility.

Last month, during a weekly podcast he hosts with another crypto influencer, Keyboard Monkey, Mando began riffing about making his own meme coin. In recent months, meme-inspired crypto tokens have risen from worthlessness to multi-billion dollar valuations.


It used to be that meme coins—first created as jokes poking fun at the sheer volume of worthless, hollow projects flooding the crypto industry—required some amount of technical prowess to create and launch. But even that barrier has fallen away: Services like now allow users to generate new meme coins on Solana in seconds, without writing a single line of code, for a few dollars’ worth of SOL. 

While recording his live podcast, Mando logged onto and chose an image of a favorite meme of his: the Epik Duck, a Roblox character that resurfaced as a viral joke on Twitter in 2021. Mando titled his new coin “Epik Duck,” and filled in the meme’s pre-existing tagline: “The Epik Duck is coming.” He then paid 4 SOL to launch the token—more than needed—and clicked “launch.” The whole thing took less than two minutes. 

Epik Duck instantly went viral, in part thanks to Mando’s podcast listeners, who jumped on the token. Within 10 minutes, the coin reached a market capitalization of $1 million. Within an hour, it surpassed $25 million.


The 4 SOL Mando had used to launch Epik Duck? That sum, initially worth about $740, bought the influencer 15% of his own token supply—a bag suddenly worth $3.75 million.

That’s when a ridiculous situation suddenly got a lot less funny, as Mando tells it. Within hours, the token's market cap plummeted back down to $2 million. In the process, many Epik Duck holders won and lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mando says he moved to burn his own tokens, fearful that people would get the wrong idea about his intentions. 

“I'm not going to get canceled for this,” Mado said he told himself at the time. “I didn’t want people to think I'd made money off this, that I planned to. It’d just gone absolutely insane.”

What had started as a joke quickly morphed into something more serious: a multi-million dollar enterprise with thousands of holders, and Mando suddenly and unwittingly in the CEO’s chair. 

“From then on, it became a reputation thing,” Mando said. “I was a man on a mission to make this work.”

But what, exactly, does it mean to make a meme coin work? Unlike other arguably worthless assets floating around the cryptosphere, meme coins, by self-definition, have no purpose. Their entire utility was once pointing out, as meta-commentary, crypto’s lack of utility. 


Mando sees things differently—but he’s not your average trader. The crypto influencer previously worked at Barclays and Goldman Sachs trading distressed and high-yield bonds before emptying his and his wife’s savings accounts in 2021 to purchase 80 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. (He ended up selling them for 700% profit.)

To Mando, in their total absence of any pretense of meaning, meme coins are the purest form of currency. 

“We all believe in the dollar. It is a meme,” Mando said. “We all believe in Bitcoin—it is a meme.”

“Meme coins, for me, are crypto in its purest form,” he continued. “Meme coins are a speed run in believing in the intrinsic value of something.”

Thus, making Epik Duck work was just like making anything else work, in a world bereft of natural value. It was just a game of convincing people. 

So Mando started a website for Epik Duck, along with a Twitter account and Telegram channel—and then a Chinese Telegram channel and WeChat account. He hired moderators for his social media operations, and he pushed Epik Duck as hard as he could. He said he barely sleeps these days as the Duck increasingly dominates his life.

The work’s had mixed results. While the token’s dropped off a fair bit since last month, some people still believe that Epik Duck has value; or at least, some people still believe that other people believe it has value. Since falling from its $25 million peak, the coin still retains a $12 million market cap at writing, per CoinGecko.


In the interim, Mando has repurchased an undisclosed sum of the token—mainly, he says, to pay exchanges and market makers and fund community rewards programs. He says he owns somewhere between 3% and 5% of the token’s supply.

He’s also invested, along with his business partners, in, praising the Epik Duck saga as proof of the protocol’s democratizing potential to allow any crypto user to—like him—make something out of nothing. 

Not all see’s ascendancy so positively. Last month, a top executive at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz derided the current explosion of meme coin generation as “undermining the long-term vision of crypto” by turning the industry into “a risky casino.” 

This deeply affects adoption, regulation/laws, and builder behavior,” the executive, Eddy Lazzarin, said. “I see the damage every day. You should too.”

On Thursday, a disgruntled former employee hacked the protocol in a $2 million exploit that caused the site to temporarily shut down. The hacker later said he had intended to “kill” with the attack. 

“It’s inadvertently hurt people for a long time,” the former employee later said, when explaining his motivations for attacking the site. 

On Friday, over 23,000 new fungible tokens were created on the Solana network, an all-time daily record. Just months ago, that figure hovered, on average, at around 300 per day.


Edited by Andrew Hayward

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