Steve Kirsch, a tech tycoon, has been criticized for his bizarre offer to a woman to remove her mask for the duration of a flight in exchange for $100,000.
Kirsch, who is worth approximately $230 million and is credited with inventing one of the first versions of the optical mouse, posted a selfie of himself on the Delta jet and detailed the controversial offer in an accompanying caption.
He claimed that the woman, who was seated next to him in first-class, worked for a pharma company and had refused the proposition.
After receiving backlash from social media users, Kirsch spoke to Inside Edition to defend himself, insisting that his comments were made in jest and that he was merely asking a hypothetical question.
He stated that he asked the woman, “How much would it take for you to remove your mask?” and then offered increasing amounts, starting at $100 and reaching $100,000.
Kirsch also asserted that the encounter was friendly and not aggressive.
However, Kirsch has been known to be an anti-masker and anti-vaccine advocate.
During a U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee meeting in September 2021, he criticized doctors for pushing vaccine mandates on Americans, claiming that Pfizer’s jab “kills more people than it saves.”
Kirsch also created a research fund for alternative COVID treatments in 2020 and donated $1 million into the venture.
But as vaccines gained ground during the early days of the pandemic, Kirsch began to question their effectiveness and intentionally spread misinformation about the pandemic online, according to the MIT Technology Review.
In the clip posted on Friday, Kirsch picked the woman’s brain about her preference to wear a mask, starting the bidding at $100 and pointing out that she could be infected with one breath when she removed the mask for eating and drinking.
The woman allegedly took off her mask as soon as breakfast was served, which Kirsch found ironic.
Kirsch’s comments on Twitter have made him a target for criticism, with some social media users branding him a “creepy liar.”
Others have expressed their support for Kirsch and said they would have taken the money.
Despite the controversy, airlines and airports dropped mask mandates following a court ruling in April 2022, although many travelers still choose to wear face coverings on flights.»ontroversy Surrounds Steve Kirsch’s Offer to Pay Woman to Remove Mask During Flight«