Ben Mezrich is a popular American writer and screenwriter who writes about gambling, trading, and finance.
Among his hits are the scripts for the films The Social Network and the TV series Billions. His latest book, The Anti-Social Network, is about the events of early 2021, when reddit users staged a coup on Wall Street. The regulars of the r/wallstreetbets sub-forum joined forces against the big hedge funds and saved GameStop from bankruptcy. One of the largest funds, Melvin Capital, lost $6.8 billion because of this story and recently announced its closure. MGM has already bought Mezrich the film rights to the book.
One of the main poker scandals, Ben also did not pass by. In 2013, his book Straight Flush was published, which tells about the rise and fall of AbsolutePoker.
But Ben's main hit is the script for the film 21 and the book Bringing Down the House, on which it was based.
“Almost all my books are a series of accidents,” Ben said in an interview . – It is impossible to predict what will arouse the interest of the public. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary for the story to interest me myself. I knew the guys from MIT personally and for some time I was even a member of their team. We flew to Vegas every weekend, life was crazy. Then it turned into a book where I told a true story and everyone liked it. This determined my entire future career. I wrote The Social Network after I received a message at 2 AM from a Facebook co-founder who wanted to tell his story.
I am very attracted to individuals who are not afraid to challenge the system. Usually, these are young people who do not recognize authorities and find an opportunity to succeed where the majority will have problems. Casinos, Wall Street, Facebook fit perfectly into this series, and big money and beautiful places just add color to my works. All my heroes can be compared to Robin Hood to some extent. Their goals may not always be noble, but they are all united by the desire to overcome the system.
Ben is also keeping a close eye on the world of cryptocurrencies, and the recent collapse of LUNA could be the subject of his next book.
"Can't stop reading all these heartbreaking stories about people who lost all their money on Luna," Mezrich tweeted on May 14 . – When I was a little over 20, I found myself in the deepest financial hole several times. I can say one thing – I sympathize with all of you! But try not to lower your head, no matter how difficult it may seem!
To this tweet, Ben added a few stories from his wild youth:
– In my early 20s, I went from $10k to $1.5 million on the stock exchange, and then I lost everything ... I could not sleep well for the next few months ...
At 26, I already had about $2 million in debt. The tax agent knew me by name, and I paid my rent with blank checks that banks send to their credit card holders; it even got to the point that I paid the debt on one credit card with another. I drank heavily, gambled, and went to parties all over the world.
I imagined myself as Michael Crichton and Hunter Thompson, but I lived on credit cards and advances on books that no one read except my immediate family. I sank deeper and deeper into the financial hole.
How did I get to this life? I woke up on Wednesday and drove to the Boston airport without luggage, took one-way tickets to Paris, checked into the Crillon Hotel, and called there all the friends I could reach. Our parties could last for weeks.
I flew from Paris to New York, spent some time at parties in Park Plaza, and then took tickets to Los Angeles. When the Standard Hotel first opened in West Hollywood, I stayed there for a month in a suite with a pool. Then I flew to Vegas and lived in Hard Rock or Palms until I ran out of money from the publishing house. With the release of a new book, everything repeated.
I got closer and closer to the edge. The hole was so deep that I myself began to realize that there was no way out of this situation. Unless the Lord extends a helping hand to me or, on the contrary, lightning strikes me ...
One day on the eve of the New Year, I ended up in Amsterdam. My friends and I rented a presidential suite, by the evening half of the residents of the red light district were visiting us, and by 2 AM all the hotel staff were already hanging out with us. When we checked out, we paid $50k for the room.
Back in Boston, I started writing business school applications because I knew the only way to get any chance of getting out was to get a job at a bank.
At this point, a college friend invited me to a bar where she introduced me to her friends at MIT. They had a lot of money, they paid only with $100 bills. These were the guys from the famous MIT blackjack team. Thanks to this acquaintance, I wrote Bringing Down The House, and then took part in the filming of the film "21". For this special thanks to Kevin Spacey (but that's another story).
This was the same lightning strike or the hand of the Lord that descended to earth and directed my drunken, ludomaniac, and reality-stripped ass to my cherished literary dreams.
And I remembered all this because I am well aware of the state of despair when it seems that there is no way out. I am well aware that I am extremely lucky. But the life of any person can change in an instant. You cannot predict when lightning will strike, but you must be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself. And when this does happen, try to do everything possible so as not to repeat the mistakes that initially drove you into a corner.
After his confession, Ben explained in the comments how he managed to get into such debt at such a young age:
– It's a long story, but in a nutshell – I wrote my first book at 25 and got a big check for it. Fully cashed out and spent every last penny. Then I signed several contracts for new books, thanks to which I was able to open a bunch of credit cards and did not deny myself anything else ...
I emptied all my credit cards and blew advances from publishers. Kind of like sports stars who earn a million, but owe 10.
I have many similar stories, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm sure my craziest book will be my autobiography.