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Chipotle Mexican Grill ‘Proof of Steak’ Crypto Promo sells out early

Ray Al-Malt spent much of his Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., bracing for rain and strong winds.

Ray Al-Malt spent much of his Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., preparing for rain and high winds that will soon be swept by Hurricane Ian. A post on Reddit brought a glimmer of hope.

There, the 31-year-old saw an announcement about a 99.95% discount for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. The only catch: he had to pay the remaining 0.05% in ether. Luckily he did.

Chipotle called the action “Proof of Steak”. The campaign was a nod to the Ethereum blockchain software upgrade that completed earlier this month. The “merge” transitioned the crypto network from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake model, hence the name of the action.

The Ethereum Foundation estimated that the upgrade would reduce the network’s energy consumption by 99.95% by replacing dozens of computers, known as miners, used to validate transactions. The rebate, redeemable for up to $20, ended Thursday night after customers redeemed $20,000 in bowls, burritos and tacos. Otherwise the deal would have lasted until Tuesday October 4th.

The campaign offered a rare use case for digital tokens that are issued like any other currency. A number of companies, including Gucci and Microsoft, have announced that they will accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Chipotle announced in June that customers could pay with cryptocurrency.

“Our overarching goal is to build and reach the next generation of Chipotle fans in the Web3 community by promoting culture and difference with activations like Proof of Steak that bring real value to the community,” wrote Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s Chief Marketing Officer.

Chipotle partnered with Flexa, a digital payments company, for the campaign. According to a Chipotle representative, the Flexa-enabled app SPEDN will allow users to create digital gift cards for payment. This allowed Chipotle employees to scan the offer as a QR code.

This workaround meant that crew members did not need to know about the Proof of Steak offer in order to apply the discount. Four out of five managers interviewed during an informal survey of Manhattan Chipotle restaurants said they were unaware the promotion was happening.

Other customers said they couldn’t get the discount. Brandt, Chipotle’s CMO, told Bloomberg that they received complaints on day one of the promotion, but added that those issues “have since been resolved.”

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