Japanese Billionaire Yusaku Maezawa: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images

Yusaku Maezawa is a Japanese billionaire who has pledged to give $9 million to 1,000 of his Twitter followers to see if money makes them happier.

On Jan. 1, Maezawa tweeted to his 7 million followers: “What happens if someone who can’t help themselves with their own power is given money called ‘the opportunity’ to rebuild their lives? Can you turn your life around?”

The deadline to qualify for the money was on January 7. He said he plans to announce the recipients soon.

Maezawa is estimated by Forbes to be worth $2 billion. He made his fortune by founding an online Japanese fashion company called Zozotown.

Maezawa also announced that he is conducting a search for a girlfriend who will travel into outer space with him on Elon Musk’s tourist space flight in 2023. The deadline to apply is January 17.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. Yusaku Maezawa Said He Is Giving Away $9 Million To See If Money Makes Them Happier

Yusaku Maezawa has more than 7 million followers on Twitter. On New Year’s Day, he announced that he will give away $9 million to 1,000 of his Twitter followers. However, the deadline to follow him was on Jan. 7.

On Jan. 1, he tweeted: “What happens if someone who can’t help themselves with their own power is given money called ‘the opportunity’ (1 million yen this time) to rebuild their lives? Can you turn your life around? Isn’t it possible to give an opportunity in society as a whole, instead of letting it work because it is up to you?”

Maezawa explained that people often can’t make changes to better their lives because they are struggling financially. “For example, if you use a favorite job for a job change activity. If you use it for study, learning, and experience that will lead to more income. Use it to advertise your daily activities and work to raise your profile. If you use it for moving funds to go to Tokyo and take on the challenge. If used for self-improvement or self-realization. How to use is of course up to you. However, I think it will be a big ‘trigger’ to improve life enough, he wrote on Note.com, according to Google translation.

“More than half of the Japanese are workers, so if more people enjoy work, nature and society as a whole will become brighter. Increased productivity means more leisure, more time to live, more people’s mind, and a brighter society. You will surely be less sad,” he wrote on Note.com in 2018.

2. Yusaku Maezawa Made His Fortune By Founding an Online Japanese Fashion Company and His Net Worth Is Now $2 Billion

Yusaku Maezawa is worth $2 billion, according to Forbes Billionaires List. He founded Japan’s largest online fashion mall, Zozotown, in May 1998 and owns 36% of its parent company, Zozo, formerly called Start Today.

Maezawa, who is 44, divorced and has one child, got his start in business selling CDs and records by mail from his home. In 2019, he was #22 on Forbes Japan’s 50 Richest list. He lives in Chiba, Japan, a coastal city on Tokyo Bay just east of Tokyo.

He was also a drummer in a band called Style Switch, which released an album in 1995.

Maezawa said he decided not to go to college and instead moved to the United States with his then-girlfriend, “rejecting the conventional path to college for he had become disillusioned in his future as a salaryman (white collar worker) in Japan, ‘after seeing all the tired faces on my morning commutes,'” according to a 2017 profile in The Daily Beast.

He’s also played golf with Tiger Woods.

3. Yusaku Maezawa Purchased a Seat on Space X’s Tourist Flight to Space on Its Big Falcon Rocket in 2023

In September 2018, Elon Musk announced the first person to fly around the moon on a 240,000-mile journey on its promised Big Falcon Rocket. It was Yusaku Maezawa.

“What I want to do is show the people of Earth just how beautiful our planet is by taking artists up there, so that they can convey that beauty to the world,” he told CNN in July 2019.

The cost of the trip has not been disclosed. It’s scheduled for 2023.

Maezawa said he has been interested in space travel since he saw Haley’s Comet as a child in the 1980s. “I’ve loved space and heavenly bodies ever since,” he told CNN. “But I never thought that I’d actually be able to go to space…When I heard that SpaceX [wanted] to send people to the moon, I contacted them immediately.”

He also announced that he is conducting a worldwide search for a girlfriend to travel to space with him. His search will be the subject of a documentary, Reuters reported.

“As feelings of loneliness and emptiness slowly begin to surge upon me, there’s one thing that I think about: continuing to love one woman,” Maezawa said. “I want to find a ‘life partner’. With that future partner of mine, I want to shout our love and world peace from outer space.”

4. Yusaku Maezawa Is An Art Collector Who Purchased a Jean Basquiat Painting for $110.5 Million

In 2017, Yusaku Maezawa purchased a painting by Jean Basquiat for $110.5 million at a Sotheby’s auction in May 2017 The 1982 painting Untitled is “a monumental masterpiece that has been virtually unseen since it last appeared on the market in 1984,” Sotheby’s said in its auction listing.

“The price is the highest paid at auction for a work by an American artist and for any artwork created after 1980,” Sotheby’s said.

Sold! Basquiat 'skull' canvas goes for 84 million euros at 'electrifying' auctionA painting by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat has become the sixth most expensive canvas ever sold at auction. "Basquiat's":artsy.net/artist/jean-michel-basquiat untitled 1982 depiction of a skull went for the equivalent of 84 million euros. The same painting was sold for just 17,000 euros in 1984. The auctioneer who dropped the hammer on the deal likened the…2017-05-19T17:22:21.000Z

Maezawa has loaned the painting for a tour to museums and galleries around the world. “Good-bye for a while my Basquiat. I am hoping that you will be loved by people all over the world and move the hearts of people around the world. See you again soon. Have a good trip!” he wrote on his Instagram page.

5. This Isn’t the First Time Yusaku Maezawa Has Given Away Money To His Twitter Followers

In January 2019, Yusaku Maezawa said he would give away $1 million dollars to 100 of his Twitter followers who retweeted his tweet.

The tweet became the most retweeted tweet on Twitter of all time, garnering more than 4.5 million retweets.

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