You've heard about GameStop stocks soaring. Here's the guy who helped spur the Reddit rally

Mina Corpuz, The Enterprise
·6 min read

BROCKTON, Mass. – To the world, Keith Gill is the investor who led an online community to buy stock in gaming company GameStop, causing its price to fluctuate greatly and make some money and others to lose it.

But in the Brockton area south of Boston, Gill is someone who grew up in the city, found running as a teenager and went on to become a cross country and track and field star athlete at the college level.

"The kids all know him by name," said John Fidalgo, coach of Brockton High School's track and field team where Gill competed. "The Gill name is everywhere in our locker room and record board."

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Keith Gill, a Brockton native, speaks during a YouTube video recorded for his Roaring Kitty account on Dec. 25, 2020.
Keith Gill, a Brockton native, speaks during a YouTube video recorded for his Roaring Kitty account on Dec. 25, 2020.

Some students have come through the program and have followed Gill's path to Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and studied accounting like he did, Fidalgo said.

Gill, now 34, is married, has a family and lives in Wilmington, Massachusetts. He was not immediately available for comment and has only given one interview this week, with The Wall Street Journal.

His starting investment in GameStop was $53,000. Reuters reported that by Wednesday, Gill's stock options and options investments with the company were worth around $46 million, according to Gills's Reddit posts. Reuters could not independently verify the posts.

GameStop investor's Brockton roots

Gill was raised in Brockton by parents Elaine and Steven Gill and has a younger brother named Kevin.

Dave Gorman, organizer of the Brockton Kids Road Race at D.W. Field Park, met Gill around age 13 when he ran in the road race and won in his age division.

He remembers telling Gill that people would be interested in him as a runner when he got to high school, but Gill said he wanted to play baseball. Gill didn't make the team, so opted for cross country and track.

Gill's mother later wrote a letter to Gorman published in The Enterprise to thank him for encouraging Gill to run.

Brockton's Keith Gill (435) at the end of the boys mile at the 2003 All State Meet Championship at Norwell on June 7, 2003.
Brockton's Keith Gill (435) at the end of the boys mile at the 2003 All State Meet Championship at Norwell on June 7, 2003.

On the first day of track practice, Gorman got a call from Gill that he lost the sneakers he won in the road race and didn't have a pair to wear. Gorman was able to help him get another pair in time.

"His career almost went up in smoke because someone took his sneakers," Gorman said.

Joe LeMar, track coach at B.M.C. Durfee High School in Fall River, Massachusetts, was assistant coach in Brockton when Gill was a student. LeMar remembered his fierce heart and determination, even while competing with knee pain.

One of Gill's big races was an all state meet in which he placed second. LeMar said Gill was dealing with injuries, but you could see that he wanted to get through the race.

"That was that 'Brockton tough,'" he said. "You saw it that day."

After graduating, Gill attended Stonehill where he continued to run cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field. He holds college records for the 800 meter, 1000 and mile, which he ran in 4:03:43.

Gill is the college's only male runner to get All-America honors for all three of the sports, according to his biography for the college's Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 2016.

Then-Stonehill College sophomore runner Keith Gill, of Brockton, in an undated file photo.
Then-Stonehill College sophomore runner Keith Gill, of Brockton, in an undated file photo.

Cross country and track coach Karen Boen said Gill made her a better coach and trusted her to help him reach his athletic goals. She respected his work ethic and was impressed by his mental fortitude.

"Keith had the ability to go into a place mentally and with such intense focus that I had never experienced in other athletes that I had coached until then," Boen said in a statement. "This mental tenacity enabled him to go deeper physically than his competitors were capable of."

He was also a team player who helped it earn titles, she said.

After college, Gill found a mentor who was an investor. He was drawn to the complexity and challenge of investing, according to the Journal. Gill started working at MassMutual, an insurance company, in 2019.

What's going on now?

Gill has become known by the online user name “DeepF—ingValue” on a Reddit forum called WallStreetBets, a community "for making money and being amused while doing it," according to the forum's FAQ.

He also has a YouTube channel where he is known as "Roaring Kitty" where he talks about investing, changes in GameStop's stock and his experience investing in it.

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At the beginning of the year, GameStop's stock price was under $20. But as individual investors who are members of the WallStreetBets Reddit forum and new investors using the app Robinhood began to buy it, that drove up the price and put pressure on hedge funds that were short selling borrowed shares to make a profit.

With short selling, the hope is that a stock's price will decrease so that shares can be bought back at a lower price. But when the price rises instead, the investor must buy shares back and lose money.

GameStop's stock price has fluctuated up to nearly $400 and on Friday closed at $325 a share.

Pedestrians pass a GameStop store on 14th Street at Union Square, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Manhattan. Robinhood and other online trading platforms are moving to restrict trading in GameStop and other stocks that have soared recently due to rabid buying by smaller investors defying short sales by hedge funds.
Pedestrians pass a GameStop store on 14th Street at Union Square, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Manhattan. Robinhood and other online trading platforms are moving to restrict trading in GameStop and other stocks that have soared recently due to rabid buying by smaller investors defying short sales by hedge funds.

Fidalgo, the Brockton High track coach, said Brockton is proud of anyone from the city who accomplishes something and takes on the persona of the City of Champions.

"It's a personality and mindset of Brockton people to go for the win and never back down," Fidalgo said. "We're fierce competitors."

If you follow how Gill has invested, you see that he was never hesitant, Fidalgo said.

Giving back with GameStop gains?

Gill told the Journal that he would like to use money from investing to make a dream come true.

“I always wanted to build an indoor track facility or a field house in Brockton,” he said in the article. “And now, it looks like I actually could do that.”

Fidalgo and LeMar, the former assistant coach, have been in touch this week to talk about Gill and the GameStop situation. They wondered whether he would want to do something track-related in Brockton or Easton, and the Journal story confirmed that.

"He knows where he's from and wants to give back to the community," LeMar said.

That line also caught the eye of Ben Warnick, the athletic director of Massasoit Community College in Brockton.

The school has existing athletic facilities including a track, he said, but some are older and could use improvements. Warnick also said there aren't any indoor track facilities in the area.

If Gill wanted to build a facility in Brockton, Massasoit could be a good place, he said.

"It seems like a win-win for Brockton if he's willing to do that," Warnick said.

Follow Mina Corpuz on Twitter @mlcorpuz.

This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: GameStop stock mania: This Redditor spurred soar in retailer's shares