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Can a Viral Photo of a Cheese Sandwich Lead to a Kidney Transplant?


It’s been four years since the disastrous Fyre Fest, which had been billed as one of the most exciting music events in the world. Celebrities and fans paid thousands of dollars to fly to the Bahamas, enjoy lavish meals, luxury villas, and tunes from some of their favorite musicians…but that’s not what ended up happening. Those brave enough to make the trip woke up to a nightmare. There were no celebrities, villas, or fancy meals, just a few tents in the middle of nowhere.

The story became something of a legend on social media. Some attendees recounted their miserable experiences, while others jumped at the chance to ridicule the organizer of the event. It’s also the subject of two documentaries on Hulu and Netflix.

Now, one of the original attendees is selling a tweet from the festival to pay for their medical care. Will it work?

The Failure of the Fyre Fest

The Fyre Fest was billed as the musical event of 2017, even though no one knew much about it. Kendall Jenner and other big-name social media stars paid up to $250,000 to promote the event, and guests coughed up as much as $12,000 per ticket. It was supposed to take place over two weekends in the Bahamas, but major headliners such as rappers Pusha T, Tyga, and Migos, and the band Blink-182 all dropped out at the last second. Guests were also enticed with promises of luxury villas, transportation via yacht or jet ski, and exclusive meals prepared by celebrity chefs.

Those who purchased a ticket arrived to find poorly built facilities with outhouses and nothing but blustering winds and sandy white beaches.

Investors lost $26 million on what they see as a scam. In the months after the event, organizer Billy McFarland pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Freelance photographer Trevor DeHaas was among the many young people who turned out for the festival. His friend had an extra ticket, so he decided to come along for what was billed as an “transformative experience.” 

As DeHaas told NPR, “We were kind of led to this one area where we were, I guess, supposed to check in. But you couldn’t find any staff. And then half of the tents, maybe more than that, the beds inside them were soaking wet because there was a huge storm the morning of or the day before.”

At the festival, he posted a photo of a cheese sandwich on Twitter with the caption, “The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing.”

The tweet became emblematic of how the organizers played up the event when it was anything other than what they’d promised. 

Using NFTs to Pay for Medical Care

Nearly four years later, DeHaas is trying to sell his original Fyre Festival tweet as a nonfungible token (NFT) that lives on the blockchain. It’s a new trend that allows people to buy and sell content, such as a photo, video, audio clip, social media post, or any other type of digital file.

The NFT is stored on the blockchain, which is made up of a series of unchangeable ledgers. This certifies the uniqueness and originality of the piece, so it can’t be copied or altered in any way, essentially making it a collector’s item. The buyer retains full ownership and the copyright to the material.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey helped kick off the trend earlier this month when he sold his first ever tweet back from 2006 for $2.9 million in the form of cryptocurrency. He then donated the money to GiveDirectly’s Africa Response fund.

As for DeHaas, he’s trying to raise money for his kidney transplant. He’s hoping the NFT will sell for as much $80,000 based on the infamy of the Fyre Festival.

“With how hot the NFT market is right now, I figured I’d give it a shot and could hopefully raise enough money that I wouldn’t need to rely on a GoFundMe to pay for my medical expenses,” DeHaas recently told The Verge. “The last thing I want is to guilt trip someone into buying the NFT and copyright to pay for my medical expenses, but I would like the auction winner to know that their money would be going to a good cause.”

The timing couldn’t be better, he added.

“Now, a few weeks before the 4-year anniversary of the festival (4/28) I’m selling the most iconic cheese sandwich on the blockchain along with the ownership of copyright,” DeHaas said.

According to his GoFundMe page, he has end-stage renal disease and is in need of a kidney transplant, but doesn’t have a donor.

“I currently do dialysis for 7 hours every day and in the meantime trying to find a living kidney donor,” DeHaas said. “The expenses from a kidney transplant can be astronomical, even with insurance. Plus, there are expenses for my donor that I would like to cover.”

DeHaas isn’t alone. Many people have had to rely on fundraising platforms such as GoFundMe to pay for medical care. We hope he finds the donor he needs and a buyer for his one-of-a-kind NFT.

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