Updated: Wed, 17 Aug 2022 10:33 AM IST
Tesla Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Elon Musk, who is the world's richest man, on Wednesday said he was joking when he said he will buy English football club Manchester United Plc (MANU.N).
"No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams," he tweeted when a fan asked him if he was serious about buying the club.
Earlier in the day, the SpaceX founder said he was buying the Manchester United, but did not provide any details. Manchester United is one of the most famous names in world soccer but is currently in crisis on the field amid angry calls from fans for the club's current owners, the American Glazer family, to pull out.
"I'm buying Manchester United ur (sic) welcome," Musk said in a tweet. The northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account and Musk's tweet had garnered nearly 320,000 'likes' on the platform within three hours.
Musk's post was a follow-on comment to a previous tweet: "To be clear, I support the left half of the Republican Party and the right half of the Democratic Party!" Left half and right half are soccer lineup positions.
Some disgruntled United fans had previously urged Musk to consider buying the club rather than Twitter. In early reactions on Tuesday, some users mockingly compared Musk's latest tweet with his run at Twitter, or seemed to consider it no more than a joke, while others expressed hope it was true.
The comment by Musk, chief executive of electric car giant Tesla, comes as United, champions of England a record 20 times, suffer a nightmare opening on the field to the 2022-2023 season.
One of the world's best known and most widely supported teams, United are rooted at the bottom of the English Premier League after losing their first two games, having failed over the summer to adequately rebuild a squad that performed comparatively poorly last season. .
Musk, who is worth $270 billion, according to Forbes, can certainly afford to buy the New York-listed football club, whose shares have slid a quarter in the past 12 months, valuing it at just over $2 billion. The stock has rebounded in the past month, gaining 16% to close at $12.78 on Tuesday.
Last week, filings revealed that Musk had sold $6.9 billion worth of Tesla shares, which he said could be used to finance a potential Twitter deal if he loses a legal battle with the social media platform.
In total, Musk has sold about $32 billion worth of Tesla stock in less than a year partly to pay tax obligations and finance a Twitter deal. Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comments. The Florida-based Glazer family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(With Reuters inputs)