Japanese billionaire and upcoming SpaceX moon tourist Yusaku Maezawa has just broken the retweet record, though he had to shell out a wad of cash to make it happen.
As of Monday night, January 7, Maezawa’s message had been retweeted on Twitter 5.6 million times, smashing the previous record of 3.6 million by Carter Wilkerson.
Wilkerson’s record came about as part of an effort to get a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s, while Maezawa’s was the result of a contest offering to share 100 million yen (about $920,000) among 100 randomly selected people who retweeted his tweet, equaling a payout of around $9,200 for each winner. They also had to follow him if they didn’t already, a condition that’s worked a treat as Maezawa’s follower count has leaped from 500,000 to 6.2 million in the space of just a few days.
The excuse for the publicity-grabbing contest was a celebration of record holiday sales by Zozotown, the online fashion mall launched by Maezawa in 2004.
The 43-year-old former punk-band drummer turned entrepreneur is reportedly worth around $3 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 18th richest person in Japan. Maezawa started out selling CDs and records of his favorite bands by mail from his home before launching online fashion mall Zozotown in 2004. He loves modern art, too, evidenced by an $80 million payout for paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Pablo Picasso in 2016.
The billionaire came to international attention in September 2017 when he was announced by Elon Musk — a fellow entrepreneur with a knack for self-publicity — as the first paying passenger for SpaceX’s proposed 2023 moon mission.
If it goes ahead, the five-day round trip will involve a fly-by of the moon, making it the first manned lunar trip since 1972, when the last U.S. Apollo mission took place.
Maezawa said he wants to share the journey with eight artists that he hopes will include top musicians, fashion designers, and painters, among others. He’s yet to reveal who he’s going to invite, though whether they accept or not is another question entirely.