How High-Achievers from Immigrant and Working Class Backgrounds Lost Millions on Bill Ackman’s SPAC

In January, members of a Reddit forum called WallStreetBets gained notoriety when they almost took down prominent hedge fund Melvin Capital Management after glomming onto GameStop, which they knew Melvin was short. The Reddit insurgency was billed as class war against the elites, and those who bet on so-called meme stocks in a torrid, topsy-turvy market became big news.

But there are plenty of little guys who aren’t winning — and scant attention has been paid to them. 

Most are too humiliated by their losses to speak on the record, saying they are worried about the impact public disclosure would have on their careers. Those I contacted provided their real names and life stories with the understanding that their names would not be published. 

These men — and they all happen to be men — are immigrants, first-generation Americans, and children of the blue-collar working class who have excelled in their professions. They are now engineers, small-business owners, doctors, consultants. Some went to Harvard, Princeton, UCLA. Many were the first in their families to attend college; a few are still students.

They are millennials — ranging in age from 24 to 39 — who live in New York, California, Illinois, Maine, Utah, and Texas, as well as Germany and Canada. They all lost money in Bill Ackman’s SPAC, Pershing Square Capital Tontine — in at least one case more than $2 million — as SPAC mania swept through the stock market like wildfire over the past year.

Egged on by chatter on Reddit and Twitter, they took the YOLO mantra to heart, borrowing on margin or buying cheap but risky call options that could offer mouthwatering returns. 

Here are their stories

One comment

  1. I also lost $100k or one year is savings between my wife and myself believing Ackman’s statements. There are many like you said that are too embarrassed to speak up. Glad you wrote this article.


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