“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” Musk posted when a user asked whether he was serious about buying the club. “Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U,” he added, “they were my fav team as a kid.”
Musk originally tweeted: “I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome,” without offering any details. Some Manchester United fans, disgruntled by their team’s declining fortunes of late, had urged Musk on Twitter to consider buying the club.
The tweet turnaround comes as Musk seeks to exit a $44 billion agreement to buy Twitter only four months after he announced on the platform he would buy the social media company, which has taken him to court.
Musk has a history of being unconventional and posting irreverent tweets, making it difficult sometimes to tell when he is joking.
“Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in,” he tweeted April 27, two days after Twitter’s board accepted his unsolicited offer to buy the company.
Referring to that post, he tweeted Wednesday: “And I’m not buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in, despite the extreme popularity of such a move.”
Musk’s tweets about potential acquisitions have landed him in hot water with U.S. regulators in the past.
In 2018, he tweeted that there was “funding secured” for a $72 billion deal to take Tesla private, he but did not move ahead with an offer. Musk and Tesla each paid $20 million civil fines — and Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman — to resolve Securities and Exchange Commission claims that Musk defrauded investors.
The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s tweet that he was buying the club outside usual business hours.
Musk’s ambitions are as varied as colonizing Mars to creating a new sustainable energy economy, and in the process he has built the electric vehicle maker Tesla, the most valuable car company in the world, the rocket company SpaceX and a slew of smaller firms. One is a tunnel maker called the Boring Company.
Manchester United, one of the most famous names in world soccer, is in crisis on the field amid angry calls from fans for the club’s owners, the American Glazer family, to pull out.
Clamor from fans and pundits for a change of ownership at the three-time winners of the European Cup, the most prestigious club competition in the global game, is intensifying amid a lengthening run without winning major titles.
The British newspaper The Daily Mirror reported last year that the Glazers, who have faced widespread fan opposition to their stewardship since they acquired the club in 2005 for $957 million, were prepared to sell, but only if they were offered in excess of 4 billion pounds.
In its annual rankings this year, Forbes rated Manchester United, with its huge global fan base, the third most valuable soccer club in the world, worth $4.6 billion, behind only Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The northern England-based team has more than 32 million followers on its main Twitter account, and Musk’s first tweet about the club garnered more than 430,000 “likes” within five hours.
Musk, who is worth $270 billion, according to Forbes, could certainly afford to buy the club.
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 to finance a Twitter deal.
Musk and his lawyer did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment on his original Twitter post before he posted his message that he had been joking. The Florida-based Glazer family did not immediately respond to requests for comment.