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Was joking about buying football club Manchester United, says Elon Musk

Musk has a track record of using Twitter to make jokes and troll the media, which follows his tweets closely

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Elon Musk | Twitter | Manchester United

Emma O'Brien & Peter Vercoe | Bloomberg 



Elon Musk
Elon Musk (Photo: Bloomberg)

says he was joking about buying English football club Plc and isn’t in the market for any sports teams.

After earlier tweeting that he was purchasing the storied club in a thread joking about his political allegiances, the . chief executive officer and world’s richest person walked back from the claim about four hours later, just after midnight New York time.

Musk has a track record of using to make jokes and troll the media, which follows his tweets closely. The billionaire has also run afoul of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, most infamously for tweets in 2018 about taking Tesla private. That led to securities fraud charges, and a settlement that included appointing a “ sitter” to approve Musk’s Tesla-related tweets.

More recently, he has drawn scrutiny from regulators over a May 17 tweet that his $44 billion takeover bid for Inc. “cannot move forward.” Musk backed away from the purchase last month, spurring a lawsuit from the company to make him complete the deal.

The latest tweets, even though Musk specified they were a joke and were made when US markets were closed, could potentially also attract regulatory attention, given that securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

“When someone in his position makes comments about buying an entity, people start speculating: ‘is he joking, not joking, half-joking?’” said Hui Chen, an ethics and compliance consultant who served as the first compliance counsel expert at the US Department of Justice. “His actions have major impact on markets and he really needs to be cognizant about the potential implications.”

Chelsea Sale

is valued at $4.6 billion, according to Forbes. In the most recent sale of a Premier League powerhouse, a group led by Todd Boehly agreed to buy Chelsea FC from sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich for £4.25 billion ($5.1 billion), including future investments.

Andrew Ward, Manchester United’s director of media relations and public affairs, didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment sent outside of normal business hours.

Manchester United, which has won a record 13 Premier League titles, is currently last on the table after a disastrous start to the season under new coach Erik ten Hag. It lost its two opening games -- including a 4-0 defeat to Brentford on the weekend.

Fans have protested the performance of the storied club under the ownership of the Glazer family, which also owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At the opening home game of the season -- a 2-1 loss to Brighton -- a large group of fans walked toward the stadium with banners that read: “Fight greed. Fight for United. Fight Glazers” and “We want our club back,” the Telegraph newspaper reported.

Manchester United won its last Premier League title under legendary coach Alex Ferguson in the 2012-13 season, and has since fallen behind crosstown rival Manchester City, which has won four of the past five titles. Wantaway star striker will be allowed to leave Manchester United this summer if he can find a club to buy him, the Telegraph reported.

Tweeting in jest

Here are some other tweets by Musk — who has over 103 million followers — which have taken investors, Twitter users, Twitter’s board, and the rest of his audience by surprise

2018

April 1: “Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt,” Musk said in an April Fool’s day tweet. Tesla shares fell 5.1% the next day

August 7: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Musk was not close to taking Tesla private and had not lined up financing, and the number 420 is closely associated with marijuana use. Tesla shares jumped, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission went on to sue Musk, saying he had misled investors

2020

May 1: “Tesla stock price is too high imo.” Shares of Tesla tumbled 10% after this tweet and erased around $13 billion from Tesla’s market value at that time

2021

May 13: After earlier saying that Tesla would accept payment in Bitcoin, Musk said the firm would no longer accept Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency fell almost $9,000 after his tweet

2022

May 13: “Twitter deal temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users.” Twitter had agreed with Musk on his $44-billion takeover of the social media company, after initial hiccups, and its shares fell sharply after Musk’s tweet.

The billionaire later terminated the deal saying that Twitter withheld information about these accounts, and the two sides are currently readying for a trial that was scheduled to begin October 17 in Delaware

(Compiled by Swapnil Joglekar)


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First Published: Wed, August 17 2022. 11:18 IST

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