Japanese fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, who founded Start Today in 1998 and launched online fashion retail website Zozotown, now Japan’s largest, is giving away 100 million yuen (US$925,000) to his Twitter followers in a “social experiment” to see if the money increases the person’s happiness.
Yusaku Maezawa, estimated by Forbes to have a net worth of US$1.8 billion, will give 1 million yen (US$13,300) each to 1000 followers selected at random from those who retweeted a January 1 post from Maezawa, with the impact of the money to be tracked through regular surveys, Reuters reported.
“To participate, all you have to do is follow me and RT this tweet,” the 44-year-old Yusaku Maezawa said.
— Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) 前澤友作 (@yousuck2020) January 5, 2019
More than four million people retweeted Yusaku Maezawa’s tweet and began following him making it the biggest retweet in history, surpassing Carter Wilkerson’s request in May 2017 to help secure him a year of free chicken nuggets from fast food chain Wendy’s. Wilkerson’s all caps tweet “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS” had more than 3.5 million retweets. Wendy’s had told Wilkerson he needed 18 million retweets but gave him a year’s supply for free.
“It’s a serious social experiment,” said Yusaku Maezawa on YouTube, adding he hopes to attract interest from academics and economists.
He tied the US$925,000 giveaway to the idea of basic income, or the theory of providing a periodic no-strings-attached payment to all citizens, gaining traction in some political circles and is supported by US Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, BBC News reported.
“Basic means a regular minimum amount offering a sense of security, what Maezawa is offering is totally different,” Toshihiro Nagahama, senior economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute told Reuters.
Yusaku Maezawa is the founder of the Tokyo-based Contemporary Art Foundation, which he started in 2012 with a goal of “supporting young artists as a pillar of the next generation of contemporary art.” Maezawa attracted significant media attention with a record purchase price at auction of US$57.3 million for an untitled work by Jean-Michel Basquiat in May 2016. He broke that record in May 2017 with a US$110.5 million auction for artwork by the same artist.
Yusaku Maezawa sent the tweet after Zozotown posted sales of 10 billion yen in its New Year’s sale.