Truth Social’s stock price is soaring. It’s not just Trump supporters buying in.

More than two years after announcing the merger that would take it public, Trump Media – the parent company to Donald Trump’s social media platform Truth Social – hit the stock market Tuesday under the ticker DJT.

Investors went wild.

The stock was bolstered by Trump supporters and mom-and-pop investors looking to make a quick buck on the stock’s soaring price. At one point during its first day, the price of Trump Media gained nearly 60%, and it see-sawed enough to make the Nasdaq stock exchange temporarily pause trading.

Meme stocks also gained traction as a way to go against the hedge funds that had been shorting, or betting against, companies like GameStop. Other investors were simply in it to make money. But no matter the incentives for buying in, experts have warned about risks associated with these volatile bets.

Now, much like these “meme” stocks, experts say they expect a tumultuous journey for Trump Media.

“If you’re an investor looking for stable returns, I would not touch this with a 10-foot pole,” said Derek Horstmeyer, a finance professor at George Mason University in Virginia who specializes in corporate finance.

This photo illustration shows an image of former President Donald Trump reflected in a phone screen that is displaying the Truth Social app.

In it for the money

Mitchell Standley bought his first shares in Digital World Acquisition – the public shell company that merged with Trump Media to take it public – back in early 2022.

Standley, 39, of Chandler, Arizona, had been active in the Wall Street Bets subreddit for a few months and saw an opportunity to make a profit off of the stock given the former president’s fanbase.

“I’d seen how relentless his followers are, and I thought I would take a shot. And I ended up making a ton of money,” he said.

Mitchell Standley bought his first shares in Digital World Acquisition – the public shell company that merged with Trump Media to take it public – back in early 2022.

Mitchell Standley bought his first shares in Digital World Acquisition – the public shell company that merged with Trump Media to take it public – back in early 2022.

He timed his bet right; a $750 investment made him about $4,500 by the time he pulled out just four hours later.

When Digital World’s stock price started to climb ahead of its merger with Trump Media, Standley decided to try his luck with the stock once again.

He used a more advanced investing tactic, purchasing two “call options” with the company last week: one for $100, and another for a little over $160. Both were easy to sell off due to the stock’s high demand, he said, and he walked away with more than $3,000 in profit. (A call option gives an investor the right, but not the obligation to purchase a stock at a specific price.)

DJT had a good first day: Trump’s Truth Social media stock price saw rapid rise

Standley – a registered independent – said he felt no political motivations for investing with Trump’s social media company.

“I’m playing the market for the money and not for the politics. But I certainly have an eye on the politics, because I see how staunch his followers are,” he said. “So when I see something like this, it’s kind of a no-brainer.”

Online forums on sites like Reddit are filled with people like Standley, who have no plans to hold their investments in Truth Social.

“We know from the meme stock craze, (that) whenever there’s a bubble, it tends to attract a lot of other more rational investors who are just trying to realize the big gain, even though they have no serious interest in the company in the long run,” said Albert Choi, a University of Michigan law professor.

Investing to support Trump

Other Trump Media investors, like Teri Lynn Roberson, couldn’t care less about potential earnings.

Roberson, 52, from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Texas, said she purchased five shares of Trump Media at about $72 a pop, right around the stock price’s Monday peak.

But she called the investment “all fun and games.” For her, it’s more about sending a message than anything else.

Teri Lyss Roberson said she bought shares for Trump Media, Truth Social's parent company, to show support for Donald Trump.

Teri Lyss Roberson said she bought shares for Trump Media, Truth Social’s parent company, to show support for Donald Trump.

“It’s mainly to support Trump and his legal battles. Or making a statement,” she said. “It’s more just to show that people are supporting him.”

Roberson said the only other time she’s tried her hand in investing was back in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the cruise industry was at a standstill. She purchased shares of Royal Caribbean’s stock as a show of support.

Roberson said she’s not worried if her Trump Media shares don’t yield a return. She plans to hold onto them – at least until the 2024 presidential election is over – and “just see where it goes from there.”

That sort of investing helped Trump Media end Tuesday with a market value of nearly $8 billion.

“I do not think that the fundamentals of the company justify this valuation,” said Usha Rodrigues, a professor at the University of Georgia’s School of Law who specializes in corporate finance and securities law. “There were definitely a lot of investors who were interested in it because they had this opportunity to invest in the Trump brand.”

The company has racked up tens of millions of dollars in losses and generated sparse sales. And it has struggled to attract advertisers and users since its launch in 2021.

Is Truth Social the next GameStop?

Predicting stock market moves is no easy task, but most experts agree that Trump Media will continue to see volatility.

“It’s going to be like GameStop, where it goes up, and then it comes crazy down, and then it goes up again,” Horstmeyer of George Mason said.

That’s because the stock’s performance so far isn’t based on traditional metrics – investors are “just going to be riding waves of sentiment,” he said.

That sort of volatility could pay off for investors like Standley, or even Trump himself, who saw his net worth soar in the aftermath of Trump Media’s public launch. The former president was worth roughly $4.5 billion on paper as of Tuesday afternoon, thanks to his roughly 60% stake in the company.

For others, it could lead to losses. The stock has already seen one major dip, falling from about $72 to under $58 in the span of one hour toward the end of the day Tuesday.

Rodrigues of the University of Georgia said that investors “run the risk of losing money” anytime they pump money into a stock that’s rising due to other investors’ behavior instead of the company’s performance.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Truth Social’s stock price is up. Who’s investing in Trump’s platform?