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How a Pastor Dressed as a Pirate Helped Ignite Trump's Media Market Frenzy| GuyWhoKnowsThings

One afternoon last month, Chad Nedohin, a part-time pastor and staunch supporter of Donald J. Trump, donned a pirate costume, set up his microphone and recited a prayer.

Mr. Nedohin was opening his last live stream on right-wing video site Rumblewhere he has around 1,400 followers who share his devotion to Trump Media & Technology Group, the former president's social media company.

“Faith comes from listening, that is, hearing the good news about Christ,” said Nedohin, 40, his face framed by fake dreadlocks under a pirate-style hat.

Nedohin and his viewers were awaiting the results of a merger vote that would determine whether Trump's company could begin selling shares on Wall Street. Word soon came about Trump Media via audio broadcast: it would be made public.

Mr. Nedohin raised his arms in celebration. A few minutes later, it cut to a video of a rocket shooting into the sky, with Trump photoshopped into it. “We have Trump stock,” he declared. “Now we are financial investors in it.”

Nedohin is one of hundreds of thousands of amateur investors who own Trump Media shares, convinced that their only platform, Social Truth, will become one of the most popular and profitable social networking sites in the world. In recent months, tens of thousands of Trump fans have tuned into Nedohin's webcasts, where exhorts Viewers invested in the company, arguing that “Trump always wins in the long run.”

The enthusiasm of Nedohin and other Trump supporters has turned Trump Media into the latest “meme stock,” driven more by Internet advertising than business fundamentals. In the public markets, these amateur investors have faced professional short sellersspecialized investors betting that stocks will fail, as well as frantic day traders looking for a quick profit.

As a result, Trump Media's stock price has swung wildly, sometimes falling as much as 18 percent or rising as much as 28 percent in a single day. the company is “a meme stock on steroids” one analyst recently wrote.

Unpredictable stock swings have major implications for Trump's finances. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee owns more than $4 billion in Trump Media stock, including newly awarded bonus shares, a potential lifeline as he faces steep legal bills tied to the cases against him. The stock's volatility could add hundreds of millions of dollars to his paper wealth…or vaporize it.

Nedohin, a Canadian citizen, cannot vote for Trump in November. But he owns more than 1,000 shares of Trump Media, which are trading at about $36, about 50 percent below his March high.

Nedohin began buying shares in late 2021, after Digital World Acquisition Corporation, a publicly traded shell company, announced plans to merge with Trump Media. Digital World was trading at $93 a share at the time.

Once the merger was final on March 25, Trump Media began trading on Wall Street and the original shares of Digital World were converted into Trump Media shares under the symbol DJT.

Nedohin said he had held on to his shares and did not plan to sell them. In the live stream, he interacts with viewers who use usernames like GOAT POTUS, urging them to keep the faith even when prices fall. “Don't be scared,” she said on a recent show.

Truth Social “has the potential to easily eclipse Twitter,” the app now known as X, Nedohin said in an interview. “I'm not worried about my investment at all.”

Nedohin doesn't like the term “meme stocks” and prefers “populist retail investing.” But if he gets his bet wrong, the financial impact on his viewers and other Trump Media investors could be devastating, given the risks of these volatile stocks.

By traditional metrics, Trump Media is not a successful business. The company reported $4 million in revenue last year and $58 million in losses. Compared to major social sites, Truth Social has a tiny audience: 1.5 million people visited the site last month. according to data from Similarweba small fraction of the 75 million who logged into X.

Still, loyal investors like Nedohin are one reason Trump Media stock now trades at a valuation roughly equivalent to that of established companies like Wendy's and Western Union. This month, Devin Nunes, CEO of Trump Media and former Republican congressman, aforementioned the enthusiasm of retail investors as a sign of the company's strength.

Any suggestion that those traders could lose money amounts to “hitting hundreds of thousands of ordinary American retail investors,” Trump Media spokesperson Shannon Devine said in an email.

From his home in Edmonton, Alberta, Mr. Nedohin works as an engineer, calculating mechanical stress in pipes. But his passion is ministry: Although he is not ordained, he said, he has worked part-time in local churches, leading worship groups as a nondenominational lay pastor. He is also a guitarist and has a portfolio of original Christian songs, some of which have been played on Canadian radio.

Before Truth Social, he said, he sometimes posted on Facebook but never got much attention. He longed for an alternative.

In 2021, Trump co-founded Trump Media after being started Twitter for his inflammatory posts before the US Capitol riot on January 6. A year later, Truth Social became operational, managed by two former “The Apprentice” contestants.

Nedohin had been a fan since Trump slid down the escalator at Trump Tower in Manhattan to announce his 2016 campaign. He views the former president as a supporter of Christian values ​​and believes the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Nedohin created a Truth Social account in May 2022 and soon found a community that shared his two main interests: Christianity and Digital World stocks.

“I've never met such an amazing group of people who are so happy to have freedom of speech,” he said.

But Truth Social had flaws and it took months for Trump to publish his first message. In 2022, the two “Apprentice” contestants left Trump Media after the Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation into the Digital World merger.

That investigation delayed Trump Media's plans to go public, and Digital World's stock price fell. Mr. Nedohin was worried. But in the spring of 2022, he said, he received a message from God.

“You ask him to move a mountain and sometimes he hands you a shovel,” Nedohin said. This time, he said, “that little voice inside” told him to start a podcast.

Mr. Nedohin started the Rumble show, “DWAC'd Live!” – a reference to the Digital World stock symbol. On the show, he attempted to mobilize Truth Social users, urging them to send letters to Congress protesting the SEC investigation.

He adopted the pirate persona to get attention, he said, calling himself “Captain DWAC” on the livestream. In Truth Social, he arose like what passes for an influencer, with 6,600 followers.

Mr. Nedohin's defense caught the attention of Eric Swider, a Trump Media board member and former CEO of Digital World, who appeared on “DWAC'd Live!” last year.

“Make sure you help spread the word,” Swider said. saying on the show, adding that “we are very, very grateful for your help.”

In July, Trump Media established with the SEC for $18 million, paving the way for the merger with Digital World to be approved last month. Mr. Nedohin was ecstatic.

But the drop in Trump Media's stock price has caused consternation online, and some Truth Social users complain about losing money. Much of the frustration has been directed at short sellers.

Trump media published instructions for shareholders on its website explaining how to prevent brokerage firms from lending shares to short sellers. Last week, Nunes wrote a letter to Nasdaq, where he lists the stock, complaining about “potential market manipulation.” He followed that up with letters on Tuesday to the Republican chairmen of several congressional committees. Trump previously warned that short sellers could “be seriously hurt.”

“As a Christian, I don't believe in short selling,” Nedohin said. “I believe in building only for the positive.”

He remains fully committed to Social Truth. During the SEC protest, he said, he returned to X in hopes of raising awareness about the campaign. Now that Trump Media is a public company, “I will never need to communicate with any of the people there,” he said.

When his livestream ended, Nedohin deleted his X account.

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