Tech mogul defends ‘creepy’ offer of 0K for woman to take off her mask on plane as ‘hypothetical’

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A tech mogul being branded a ‘creep’ over claims he offered a woman $100,000 to take off her mask during a flight last week has defended himself in a bombshell interview in which he insisted the proposition was merely hypothetical.

A Silicon Valley veteran worth approximately $230million, 67-year-old Steve Kirsch posed the proposition on Friday, even posting a selfie smiling on the Delta jet, with an accompanying caption detailing the off-putting offer.

 ‘I am on board a Delta flight right now,’ Kirsch wrote Friday from his first-class seat. ‘The person sitting next to me in first-class refused $100,000 to remove her mask for the entire flight.’

The tycoon – credited with inventing one of the first versions of the optical mouse back in 1980 – was almost immediately bombarded with criticism, with social media users branding him a ‘creepy liar’ following the out-of-the out-of-the blue proposal.

Now insisting the comments were made tongue in cheek, Kirsch spoke to Inside Edition Thursday to provide his own account of the now-polarizing interaction.

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Tech mogul defends ‘creepy’ offer of 0K for woman to take off her mask on plane as ‘hypothetical’

 Now insisting the comments were made tongue in cheek, Silicon Valley Veteran Steve Kirsch spoke to Inside Edition Thursday to provide his own account of the polarizing interaction

Worth roughly $230million, the 67-year-old posed the proposition on Friday, posting a selfie and an accompanying caption detailing the offer

Worth roughly $230million, the 67-year-old posed the proposition on Friday, posting a selfie and an accompanying caption detailing the offer

‘It was a hypothetical question, “How much would it take for you to remove your mask?”‘ said Kirsch, appearing remotely for the interview from his living room.

‘I said, “If I offered you $100…$1,000…then I upped it to $100,000.” People think I am aggressively going after people, I’m not doing that at all. We’re having a friendly conversation.’

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A known anti-masker and anti-vaccine advocate, Kirsch maintained that the encounter with the unnamed woman – who he said worked for a ‘pharma company’ was not serious. 

That said, during a U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee meeting in September of 2021, the tech expert decried doctors for pushing vaccine mandates on Americans, claiming Pfizer’s jab ‘kills more people than it saves.’

Months before, the millionaire created a research fund for alternative COVID treatments in 2020, donating $1million into the venture, the MIT Technology Review reported.

However, the outlet also claims that as vaccines began to gain ground during the early days of the pandemic, Kirsch quickly began to question vaccines and their effectiveness, as they were approved by governments across the globe.

The piece went on to claim the tech vet now intentionally spreads ‘misinformation’ about the pandemic online.

On his Twitter profile, however, Kirsch calls himself a ‘truth-teller’ as well as a ‘critical thinker’, and he regularly shares articles skeptical of Covid vaccinations and masks.

The Silicon Valley Veteran was credited with one of the first versions of the optical mouse back in 1980. Previously the President of Frame Technology Corporation, Kirsch is seen here showing off an application he created in 1986

The Silicon Valley Veteran was credited with one of the first versions of the optical mouse back in 1980. Previously the President of Frame Technology Corporation, Kirsch is seen here showing off an application he created in 1986

He said that he offered a woman $100k to remove her mas for the entire flight, claiming that she worked 'for a pharma company'

He said that he offered a woman $100k to remove her mas for the entire flight, claiming that she worked ‘for a pharma company’

Kirsch was hit by a barrage of tweets calling him a 'creepy liar', with dozens slamming the tech millionaire for his bizarre rant

Kirsch was hit by a barrage of tweets calling him a ‘creepy liar’, with dozens slamming the tech millionaire for his bizarre rant

In the clip posted on Friday, Kirsch launched into a lengthy rant to explain his interaction with the woman, during which he picked her brain about her preference to wear a mask.

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He recalled: ‘I started the bidding at $100. And I pointed out that when she removed the mask for eating and drinking, she could be infected with one breath. So she had full disclosure.

‘She took off her mask as soon as the breakfast was served!!!! Because everyone knows you can’t get infected while you are eating!!

‘Maybe next time I’ll sit next to someone who had an account at Silicon Valley Bank.’

Kirsch was hit by a barrage of tweets calling him a ‘creepy liar’, with dozens slamming the tech millionaire for his bizarre rant.

The millionaire created a research fund for potential COVID treatments n 2020, donating $1million into the venture according to MIT Technology Review

The millionaire created a research fund for potential COVID treatments n 2020, donating $1million into the venture according to MIT Technology Review

One user called him an ‘entitled mansplainer’, while another said Delta should have reimbursed the woman for her seat after ‘noxious arrogant fool’ Kirsch ruined her flight.

Another said: ‘What a jackass thing to do. She paid for First Class and still had to deal with an idiot in her personal space.’

A third added: ‘What’s happening here, Steve, is that people are weighing the likelihood of you being a sincere rich guy vs. a creepy liar and quite reasonably landing on the latter.’

But some were on the side of the tech executive, saying they would have ‘bought their daughter’s dream home’ with the money.

One user called him a 'entitled mansplainer', while another said Delta should have reimbursed the woman for her seat after 'noxious arrogant fool' Kirsch ruined her flight

One user called him a ‘entitled mansplainer’, while another said Delta should have reimbursed the woman for her seat after ‘noxious arrogant fool’ Kirsch ruined her flight

Another said: ‘Even if it was GUARANTEED I’d get COVID I’d take the $100k, depending on where I was going.’

The Silicon Valley Veteran was credited with one of the first versions of the optical mouse back in 1980.

He co-founded Frame Technology Corp which was bought out by Adobe in 1995 and then went on to create Infoseek and then sold it to Disney in 1999.

Airlines and airports dropped mask mandates following a court ruling in April 2022, though many travelers continued to opt for face coverings on flights.

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