Man runs 3,237 miles in name of Bitcoin and homelessness
Homeless advocate and Bitcoin evangelist Jason King runs across America to bring attention to how the open nature of virtual currencies can help solve poverty. And, he's just about to cross the finish line.
Dara KerrFormer senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Enduring rain, heat, wind, and exhaustion, Jason King has only 30 miles left to finish his run across America. In the four months he's been on the move, he's shed 72 pounds, met all sorts of people, and been daunted by the thousands of miles ahead.
Why would King commit to such a task?
Because he wanted to raise awareness about homelessness and Bitcoin. King runs a cryptocurrency-based homeless outreach organization in Pensacola, Fla., called Sean's Outpost. With this organization, he has seen how the open and global nature of Bitcoin has helped pay for food and other supplies for people in need.
"There's an epidemic of homelessness in America and most people don't realize it. It's not that they don't care, it's just that they don't realize," King told CNET. "Bitcoin allows you to open up to a world stage with a local problem. That's never been possible before with any other monetary device."
The numbers on homelessness in the US are staggering. According to data gathered by King, more than 3.5 million people will be homeless this year -- that's 1 in 200 Americans. Poverty is another tough issue, King said. More than 12 million children live in poverty in the US, and this year more than 100 million people will experience some type of food insecurity.
Since Bitcoin is an international currency that isn't run by the US banking system, it's possible that more people around the world could donate to non-profits working to help the homeless population, King said.
Looking to spread the word, King commenced his cross-country run in Miami Beach, Fla., in January. After running through the South, Texas, and America's Southwest, he finally reached California last month. As of Friday, he has run 3,214 miles. When he crosses the finish line in San Francisco on Saturday, King will have run a grand total of 3,237 miles in a little over four months, averaging about 32 miles a day.
"Running across the entire country I've been able to see first-hand how bad the homeless situation is," King said. "On the Bitcoin front, I've been in all of these small towns and people know about Bitcoin and want to talk Bitcoin."
At one point, King was in rural west Texas when a big hulking man approached him. King said the guy made him a bit nervous, but when he finally spoke to the man "all he wanted to talk about was how awesome Bitcoin was."
"It was way out of nowhere in Texas and this big lumberjack guy wanted to talk about Bitcoin," King exclaimed.
Which boils down to the point of why King decided to run across the country. Ultimately, he thought that doing something outrageous would call attention to his cause and hopefully start a conversation.
"America likes a spectacle," King said. "And so I figured if I did this run I could create a conversation about homelessness and try to find a solution to it."
King plans to finish his run on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT at the Bitpay offices at Third and King streets, across the street from AT&T Park.