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Tech tycoon, branded ‘creep’ for $100,000 offer to woman, breaks his silence

Steve Kirsch says he offered a 'hypothetical' $100,000 to a co-passenger to take off her mask. His tweet sparked backlash and led to the millionaire being branded a creep.

March 17, 2023 / 02:39 PM IST
Steve Kirsch says he offered a woman $100,000 to take her mask off during a flight (Image credit: @stkirsch/Twitter)

Steve Kirsch says he offered a woman $100,000 to take her mask off during a flight (Image credit: @stkirsch/Twitter)

Steve Kirsch, the millionaire tech tycoon who copped backlash for offering a woman $100,000 to take off her mask, has addressed the controversy his tweet sparked.

Kirsch took to Twitter on March 10 to reveal that he had offered $100,000 to his Delta co-passenger to take off her mask. The unnamed woman in first class refused his offer, he revealed.

“I am on board a Delta flight right now. The person sitting next to me in first class refused $100,000 to remove her mask for the entire flight. No joke. This was after I explained they don’t work. She works for a pharma company,” Kirsch had tweeted. His tweet about the exchange led to the 64-year-old Silicon Valley veteran being branded a creep and worse.

A week after the row exploded, Kirsch has now told The New York Post that he has no regrets about how the conversation played out. He explained that the conversation was cordial and his offer was “hypothetical.”

“It was a cordial conversation,” the millionaire anti-masker told The New York Post. He added that he is “never obnoxious and aggressive” when talking to people who wear face masks, even though he himself does not believe they work.

“I asked her why she was wearing a mask,” he explained. “She said she was going to see her daughter and wanted to protect herself against COVID-19.”

Kirsch said he made the hypothetical offer of $100,000 to “question the intensity of her belief” about the effectiveness of face masks. Her refusal to take off her mask highlighted “the insanity some people have,” he said.

Steve Kirsch is the founder of an anti-vaccine group called Vaccine Safety Research Foundation. A Silicon Valley veteran, Kirsch was responsible for one of the first versions of the optical mouse back in the 1980s, according to the New York Post. In the 1990s, he co-founded Frame Technology Corp and created the search engine Infoseek, which turned him into a millionaire.

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first published: Mar 17, 2023 02:35 pm