Fifteen days ago, Vincent Van Dough created an NFT of an image of a potato with the word “hot” written in red marker on it, in a looping, cursive script. He minted it on Manifold and listed it for auction.
“Let’s play a game,” he said on X. “This is a hot potato.
“You can hold it for a while, but hold it for too long, and you may get burnt,” he said.
After OSF won the auction, the game—written immutably into its contract—began. The potato is hot: the NFT must change hands every twenty-four hours, or it will automatically burn and be lost forever.
You can head over to your NFT marketplace of choice and scroll through the ownership history of the potato—it features the wallets of many big names from our space. You can check the potato website, which has a countdown to potatogeddon.
But the best way to see the potato is, as UK-based artist ARTJEDI put it in a post on X, “the epitome of multi-player performance on the blockchain.” The real fun can be found on Twitter, where the web3 meme machine has kicked into overdrive—and, hilariously, has brought the potato into the awareness of luminaries like Sam Spratt and Cozomo de Medici. From Benny Gross delivering the potato to OSF in London to Seedphrase documenting the deed, the potato’s saga has ensnared many of web3′ s favorite characters.
Her thoroughly researched, joyfully written chronicle of the potato’s journey—and the storytelling wrapped around its metaphorical skin—is the definitive place to get caught up on all things tuber-related.
“@Vince_Van_Dough minted a literal potato to the blockchain, which was immediately snapped by @osf_rekt for 1.6 eth. OSF then announced that the Hot Potato should be bestowed upon ONE worthy candidate—you have to prove your hotness!
This stirred a flurry amongst many worthy applicants (yours truly included), though, alas the hot potato appeared in the middle of nowhere in @redbeardnft’s grubby hands,” began her post.
ARTJEDI continues, tracing the two-week history of the potato changing hands daily—all the way to @SamSpratt’s acquisition. In the interim, NFT socials have been full of potato content—everything from green-screen staged murders to pixel art to wild glitch animation—by top creators in the space, all in the hopes of wooing the potato to their own wallet.
You can trace the handovers and check the hilarious content out on Vincent’s profile, and, as ARTJEDI recommends, LordJamieVShill has a superb writeup of the meme aspect. Suffice it to say much bear market steam has been blown off, with a send-up of The Monument Game, green screen murders, and a wild outpouring of art.
The potato, delightfully, ended up yesterday in the hands of Sam Spratt, creator of Skulls of Luci and The Monument Game. Cozomo de Medici wants the potato—bad—so he can let the clock expire and allow it to burn, and Sam has made him an offer—one potato in exchange for the “Birth of Luci” token in Cozomo’s vault. When nft now asked Spratt for comment for this piece, he responded with this meme, referring to the Player’s Mask in The Monument Game.
Meanwhile, the potato rests among members of the Council of Luci—holders of the intricate skulls that are among the highest PFP blue-chip NFTs. Right now, Deeze is holding the potato, and the game promises to continue in its weird progress.
Interestingly, as uncovered by ARTJEDI in her writeup, this potato is not just fun and memes—it’s a callback to one of the earliest manifestations of crypto art. “A hot potato’ smart contract is a type of blockchain-based game or mechanism where a digital asset (often represented as a token or NFT) can be passed from one participant to another, usually for a cost,” she said in her write-up.
According to ARTJEDI, a hot potato contract traditionally has a series of functions, starting with mint. Some hot potato contracts require the item to be transferred at an increasing price each time—and there is an incentive to sell, so one is not holding the hot potato when the game stops, and it becomes worthless. ARTJEDI picked this information up listening to crypto artist John Orion Young on a Space—he deployed a hot potato contract for his Joy World all the way back in 2018!
What next for the potato? Does it have an endpoint? Is it art?
We can’t answer the first two questions yet—although with the names involved, if there is an endpoint it is likely to be an entertaining experience. But is it art? Definitely, according to ARTJEDI.
“This current highly visible and public game, through posts on X, invites the viewers to participate–even if vicariously. The game was initiated by Vincent Van Dough, and it was clearly meant to be either a joke or a highly elaborate spontaneous performance (he can comment better on his intentions) or, perhaps, he didn’t know where it would go, and the nail-biting uncertainty and the subsequent fun is the purpose,” she told nft now in an interview.
To ARTJEDI, the potato connects us and illuminates the history of crypto art. “I love that this has brought a focus on how fun the blockchain history is. It shows our appreciation for the cultural significance of this phenomenon and underscores the multifaceted nature of blockchain technology. I’m glad it gave me the opportunity to learn more about it, and I have to thank Roger Dickerman for inviting JOY for a chat on his Monday Spaces – it sparked my curiosity to go into a proper research mode,” she said.
And will the potato be passed along indefinitely or end in flames? “That remains to be seen,” she added.