Crypto Glossary: "When Lambo?" Meme Explained

How did a luxury sports car brand become the ultimate status symbol for the crypto nouveau riche?

Bitcoin Lamborghini, art by Midjourney

Crypto bros' love for expensive cars, especially Lamborghinis, is an old tale that has firmly embedded itself into the meme culture of the crypto community. Head to any Bitcoin conference and you will almost always see a few exotic models flaunted by attendees in a parking lot. For aspiring crypto investors, Lambo — short for Lamborghini — became the ultimate status symbol synonymous with crypto success.

But why is it Lamborghini? Why not Ferrari, Porsche, or any other luxury sports car brand? The reason seems to be a combination of timing, culture, and perhaps a bit of a random chance.

"When Lambo?" meme: origins and usage

"When Lambo?" is a phrase often used by hopeful cryptocurrency investors as a half-serious, half-joking way to ask when their crypto assets will soar enough so they may afford to buy a Lamborghini, an Italian brand of luxury sports cars adored for its wild and ostentatious design and high performance.

Similarly to WAGMI, the phrase has become a rallying cry within the community, often used to express optimism, excitement, and sometimes frustration with the highly volatile nature of the crypto market. While it's often dropped with a degree of irony, it also serves as a testament to the community's optimism and belief that prices will one day go up.

Occasionally, the meme is also used to poke fun at the get-rich-quick mentality of some newcomers to the crypto space, who hope to make a big buck from jumping onto hype projects with questionable utility — only to become exit liquidity to whales or insiders.

Why Lambo?

"When Lambo?" shot to fame during the cryptocurrency Consensus Investment Conference held in November 2018 in NYC, shortly after Bitcoin's massive rally that spawned a number of newly minted crypto millionaires. For the event, Bitcoin Mercantile Exchange rented three Lamborghinis to accommodate the tastes of attendees. After the conference, Lamborghini somehow became firmly associated with getting rich from crypto.

Interestingly, Lamborghini seems to enjoy the attention from crypto bros. According to the brand's CCO Federico Foschini, out of all luxury vehicles, Lambo's demographic skewed the youngest, with more than half of owners being younger than 40 and an astounding 20% under 30.

“I see the parallel between young people that are really willing to become very rich with a very high-risk investment with the fact that our customers are very young,” brand’s CEO Stefano Domenicali told CNBC.

Read also: HODL, FUD, SAFU, and other crypto slang terms you need to know in 2023

Besides the Consensus conference, which obviously cemented the connection between Lamborghini and crypto, there are other possible reasons to blame for crypto bros' Lambo obsession.

First of all, Lamborghinis, known for their extravagant design and performance, symbolize a break from the norm, a rebellion against the mundane. This resonates perfectly with the mindset of crypto bros, who often see themselves standing at the forefront of the finance revolution.

Secondly, the crypto community is deeply intertwined with internet culture, where memes can become powerful symbols. The Lambo motif was catchy, visually striking, and easily meme-able, leading to its enthusiastic adoption within the community.

Thirdly, a good example is simply infectious, and after well-known figures in the crypto world bought Lamborghinis and flaunted them publicly, some other crypto-rich people have been asking, "Why won't I buy it?". This turned Lamborghini into a visual representation of having "made it" in crypto.

Can You Buy a Lamborghini with Bitcoin?

The short answer is YES. You can absolutely buy a Lambo with Bitcoin, and Peter Saddington is a well-known example of someone who has done just that. An entrepreneur and Bitcoin enthusiast, he made headlines in 2017 after purchasing a $200,000 Lamborghini Huracán for Bitcoin. Saddington has been investing in Bitcoin since 2011 when the price was just a fraction of what it is today. His early investment paid off, and he decided to use some of his profits to buy the luxury sports car.

"As a technologist and someone who likes to take risky bets with new technology, I thought it was really intriguing," Saddington told CNBC. "I took about a month to research it, look back in the code, look back in the white paper."

Interestingly, Saddington's purchase is not an isolated case. As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity, some high-end car dealerships and luxury retailers have begun to accept them as a form of payment, and Lamborghini Newport Beach is one of a few such sellers. The dealership began accepting Bitcoin in 2013 for its luxury vehicles, which include Lambos, Porches, Bugattis, Ferraris, and BMWs