On March 27, 2008, Carlos Sanchez, known to the Internet as “Sneak Geekz,” uploaded a video of himself unboxing a pair of “Carmine” Air Jordan VIs. The sneakers weren’t set to release for another month, but Sanchez was able to get his hands on an early pair. He’d continue to do this, posting unboxing videos of Foamposites, Air Jordans, Air Force 1s, and more before their release dates. He’d grow a fervent following, with some videos gaining hundreds of thousands of views before the term “Sneaker YouTube” was even a thing. He’d also gain detractors, people who thought he had fake sneakers. Then he kind of disappeared.

If you’ve been following Sanchez over the past few years on social media, you’d know the now 52-year-old from Brooklyn (currently living in New Jersey) is heavy into Bitcoin, and he has been for a few years. Just as he was early on the Sneaker YouTube wave, the same can be said for him and cryptocurrency.

What makes Sanchez interesting isn’t that he was unboxing sneakers on the Internet a decade ago, but that his personality made him stand out, from his gruff, New York accent that would fluctuate octaves, hitting high notes when he’d pronounce the word “Swoosh,” to his excitable demeanor. The late Gary Warnett said it best: sneaker unboxing videos peaked on December 6, 2010, when Sanchez showed off a pair of “Electric Green” Nike Air Foamposite Pros.

But what’s like been like for Sneak Geekz post sneaker YouTube and how’s Bitcoin doing for him these days? We spoke to him, via multiple phone interviews, to find out.

How did you get into Sneaker YouTube?
I was getting into sneakers because I had the extra money where I could afford it. I was trying to find a way where I could reach out to people and say, “Don’t give up on your dreams.” I was like, “I’ve got some sneakers.” So I broke out the camera and did an unboxing. I did it by accident. There was no plan or anything. The video took off. It got a lot of views really quick. So I did another one. Then it happened again, getting thousands of views. I went down the sneaker rabbit hole. Every week going and copping sneakers and doing unboxings. It gave me a channel to communicate with people. The goal wasn’t sneakers, although that’s my passion. There were so many things you could do, because no one was doing it.

In old videos, you’ve said, “Smells like it came from the right factory.” Then people criticized you for having fakes. How did that happen?
Back then, nobody really knew. Everybody assumed, myself included, that things were 100 percent legit. It’s not like it is now with the fakes. Getting them was an adrenaline rush, like Christmas. I totally assumed everything was legit. Then there were a lot of criticisms, saying they were fake. I was also getting stuff shipped to me. There was a point where I wasn’t buying as much. I would just get boxes shipped. I didn’t get a chance to look at it. I would just be opening it on camera. Then people started coming out saying, “Those can’t be legit.” I had to regroup and see what was going on and read the feedback. That’s what started to sour the sneaker industry for me.

Sneak Geekz
Carlos Sanchez, aka Sneak Geekz, giving a sneaker the smell test. Image via YouTube

Is that why you stopped doing Sneaker YouTube?
I haven’t done anything in awhile. I started again a year ago. I did one. Then I did a couple. I haven’t done anything more recently. But that was a big part of it. So many fakes and the high quality of them. It was impossible to tell whether something you were getting was legit or not.

Is that what pushed you away from sneakers?
One of the other things that started pushing me away was a lot of the hype being generated by manufacturers. The “Galaxy” Foamposite, when those popped, there had been riots before, but it was across the country and there were helicopters. I was talking to someone in line to get me a pair. We were communicating and I paid them to get them for me. After everything was said and done, the kid never got them. I was like, “Man, I’m part of the problem.” The drops have changed a lot, but we didn’t have to do it that way. That was the final nail. I don’t want to promote Nike and Adidas and whoever, because what they’re doing is taking advantage and using the hype to market their products and causing people to get hurt. When that happened, I was like, “I got to rethink.” I didn’t get into this to market Nike. I did this to get in touch with people who are struggling and looking for the potential opportunity to get out.

What do you think of Sneaker YouTube right now?
It’s always good for people to share information and to create content. As far as the hypebeast aspect, they’re pushing people to be like, “Wow, look how successful they are because they have this sneaker.” It’s become a money thing now. For me, it was just doing it for fun. I had people sponsoring me and sending me sneakers. Wanting me to come to events. That was fun. Now it’s on a massive scale. It’s become an industry on its own. It’s good in the sense that people are creating content, on the other side so there’s so much bull with these content creators.

How’d you get into Bitcoin?
I read an interview where someone mentioned Bitcoin. I started researching it and coming across bits of information about it. Then I went down the rabbit hole. I studied about it 8-12 hours a day, until I understood what it was. It took me six months to understand it. That’s when I purchased my first Bitcoin. I was soured on sneakers, I was tired of what I was doing professionally, and I was looking for something that could change things. That was six years ago. From there I just kept on. I stopped what I was doing professionally. Now I’m an advisor, teacher, consulter in the space.

Do you think Bitcoin is the future?
It’s one of the biggest inventions known to mankind: similar to the Internet, the printing press. When it comes to the invention or technology, it’s huge. It’s a new Internet that’s being built. We are now with cryptocurrency where the Internet was in 1994. The same thing the Internet did to the Post Office, cryptocurrency is going to do to the banks. It can’t be stopped.

People are worried the Bitcoin bubble is going to burst. What do you think about that?
Every year, this time of the year, the price drops. It’s happened the past four years. There’s always a build up prior to the holidays. People start to cash out. People in China and Asia cash out so they can buy presents for family and friends. China announced that they were going to shut down Bitcoin miners. Then it came out that they were banning, but they were limiting. There isn’t any problems with the Bitcoin technology. It’s gotten so popular that transactions aren’t as fast as they used to be.

Do you think Bitcoin is a better investment than sneakers?
It’s good to be diversified. When I got in and started catching on, I sold a majority of my sneakers to buy Bitcoin. And that’s when it was $25-$50. I think I did a little better selling my Yeezy 1s and other things from back in the day for Bitcoin. I kept thinking, though, I should have kept those. How much is the increase in the price of sneakers due to the sneaker appreciating in value or is the dollar losing value?

So you’re doing all right?
I’m still 110 percent behind this technology. I’m doing well. I mine. I’m profitable. I’m a long-term holder. I’m not looking for short-term gains. I’m teaching and traveling the world.