Historically, the stock market is the greatest wealth creator on the planet. Even though there have been short periods where commodities or housing have outperformed, no other asset has been able to hold a candle to the steady long-term appreciation of equities.

But everything changed when cryptocurrencies came along. The S&P 500‘s total return (i.e., including dividends) of slightly more than 10% per year since 1981 has been dwarfed by the average annual return of some of the hottest digital currencies.

If you had the foresight and fortitude to invest $10,000 into each of the following three ultra-popular cryptocurrencies five years ago (as of Feb. 24, 2021), you’d be sitting on well over $1 million today.

A physical gold Bitcoin lying atop a messy pile of one hundred dollar bills.

Image source: Getty Images.

Bitcoin: $1.15 million

I won’t leave you in suspense: Bitcoin (CRYPTO:BTC), the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap, is absolutely one of the three. A $10,000 investment in Bitcoin five years ago would have appreciated to roughly $1.15 million today.

Bitcoin has benefited from an assortment of traditional catalysts and brand-name business adoption. In terms of old-school catalysts, optimists continue to tout its 21 million token limit