While we were lying on the couch, Dorito crumbs accumulating on our bare chests, watching last week’s episode of TLC’s “My Five Wives” for the second time, 17-year-old Mohammed Islam was busy investing.
From the re-examine your life department, New York magazine reported that the high-school junior from New York earned more than $72 million by trading stock during his lunch breaks at the city’s Stuyvesant High School. He said he liked to focus on oil and gold futures, and small and midcap equities — things that are completely foreign to me, a 31-year-old.
The young trader already has a BMW and rents a Manhattan apartment, neither of which his parents allow him to use — at an age when most of us were busy wondering what college we could fool into accepting us or coming up with zany schemes for getting laid on prom night.
Islam, who started trading penny stocks at 9, says he hopes to start a hedge fund with his friends after he turns 18 and can get his broker-dealer license. He then hopes to make a billion dollars — next year alone. It also should be mentioned that Mohammed dresses like a mobster in French-cuffed, white-collared shirts.
Islam tells the magazine that he’s developed “‘a passion for understanding the markets and a passion for making money,” and trades “mainly based on volatility and volume.”
“What makes the world go round?” he says. “Money.”
He says stuff like that at 17. Me, on the other hand? I had a passion for understanding scrambled porn and making Hot Pockets. The only thing I did with volatility and volume was in the privacy of my own bedroom. Scrambled porn may have been involved.
Despite flaunting his wealth on social media with videos of him partying, dancing with older women, playing high-stakes poker and of course popping champagne, Islam actually seems grounded for a young man of immense means. His parents, first-generation immigrants from the Bengal region of South Asia, reportedly don’t need to work anymore because of their son’s success. Islam also helps his friends invest while treating them to high-end meals and, one assumes, champagne bottles to pop.
You still have to be 21 to drink, but I doubt that matters once you hit eight figures.
Now despite my humble beginnings, I’m no stranger to the precocious, filthy-rich teenager high life. Seriously, my Dad once sent me a check for a hundred dollars in 11th grade, which I then proceeded to invest in a trip to 7-Eleven for Slurpees, Slim Jims and Steel Reserve Malt Liquor for all of my friends. This is because 1) I enjoy the finer things, and 2) My friends were there for me when I had nothing. You know, before the check for one-hundo arrived. Sort of a started-from-the-bottom-now-I’m-here type scenario. As I’d learned from numerous rap songs, you have to take care of your entourage once you’ve made it.
The money changed me, as it would any 16-year-old. While I wasn’t at Morimoto eating $400 caviar and drinking freshly pressed apple juice like Islam and his wolf cubs are, I did let the 7-Eleven nacho cheese flow like liquid gold that evening. Shawna, the assistant manager, saw me in the different light after I told her that “price is no issue” and to “keep the buffalo chicken taquitos coming, my lady!”
You see, first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the respect (from 7-Eleven cashiers. The Robious-Huguenot corridor hasn’t seen seen a classier nabob of that caliber since.
But I digress.
Because soon after learning about young Mr. Islam and baring my soul in this column, I’m stunned to see a revelation from the New York Observer that Islam made all of it up — though he did, apparently, do very well at simulated trades in his high school’s investment club. The reporter was duped. His parents aren’t happy. A crisis PR firm is helping him recover.
Maybe 17-year-olds aren’t that different after all.
As Islam writes on his Instagram page, “More money, less problems.”
Now if you need any more investment pointers, I’ll be on the couch watching TLC’s “Alaskan Women: Looking for Love.”
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.