Many people—especially Robinhood app-wielding stock speculators—were expecting Musk, the world's sometimes richest person, to mention $DOGE, as the eight-year-old joke cryptocurrency is known. The [hotlink]Tesla[/hotlink] and [hotlink]SpaceX[/hotlink] chief executive spent months tweeting memes about the digital funny money in the lead-up to his appearance on NBC's comedy sketch show.
As the show unfolded, Musk did not disappoint—even if the cryptocurrency's performance did.
Early in the episode, Musk's mom, Mae Musk, dissed the buzzy cryptocurrency during the opening monologue. "I’m excited for my Mother’s Day gift," she said on the eve of that holiday. "I just hope it's not Dogecoin," she joked.
Musk, wearing an impish grin, returned: "It sure is!"
Dogecoin's price dropped to $0.49 from $0.64 following the bit. The price swing wiped out nearly $20 billion in the cryptocurrency's total market value before its price recovered slightly.
Musk pumped up the digital currency with his humor, as many investors who piled into Dogecoin recently hoped he would. But the price, which had improbably risen more than 13,000% since the start of the year, deflated as many of those same investors quickly cashed out.
Later, during the show's Weekend Update, a satirical news segment, Musk played the role of a financial expert, referring to himself as "the Dogefather".
The fake news interview proceeded with Weekend Update anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost peppering Musk with the same question: "So, what is Dogecoin?" Musk attempted to answer in multiple ways, including by noting that it is a cryptocurrency that is "decentralized using blockchain technology."
After failing to understand some of Musk's technical explanations, Che whipped out a dollar bill. "So, for instance, this is a dollar, right?" Che posits. "So what is Dogecoin?"
Musk retorted, "About as real as that dollar."
Musk then called Dogecoin "an unstoppable financial system that's going to take over the world." He added that "you can trade it for conventional money."
Che, experiencing an epiphany, exclaimed, "So it's a hustle?"
"Yeah, it's a hustle," Musk shrugged. Before signing off, he added, "To the moon!" a rallying cry of cryptocurrency investors seeking outsized returns.
A day before the SNL episode aired, Musk posted a photo of him and SNL musical guest Miley Cyrus posing next to a photoshopped Shiba Inu, the dog breed at the heart of the cryptocurrency. Enthusiasm over the guest appearance helped drive a massive surge in the cryptocurrency's price in recent weeks.
In the episode's last skit, Musk, dressed as a Wild West would-be bank robber, engaged a philosophical debate about the nature of money. He suggested creating a new one that's based on "whatever we say it's based on."
The premise was an obvious allusion to arguments centering on cryptocurrencies, whose detractors say they lack fundamental value. An SNL cast member playing a fellow gang member objected to Musk's idea, declaring, "Money is a golden rock that we dig out of the ground!"
Bitcoin boosters often refer the cryptocurrency as "digital gold." Earlier this year Musk converted part of the treasury of Tesla, his electric car company, into Bitcoin—a decision that contributed to hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of profit last quarter.
On online forums, Dogecoin boosters rallied around their funny money even as it tanked during SNL. Many posters commiserated about losses: "My face when I lose $700 in 10 minutes," said one, presenting a meme-ified image of a worried-looking Elon Musk.
"Still HODLING though!" the person added, using cryptocurrency slang for "holding."
More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:
Everything to know about Biden’s $3,000 child tax credit—including when the money should arrive
Should you "sell in May"? Not this year, say experts
3 reasons Verizon needed to dump what’s left of AOL and Yahoo
Are CFOs flocking to Bitcoin? No way, says this high-level adviser
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com