Washington — Elon Musk tweeted on Tuesday that “I’m not buying any sports teams,” calling a viral post about him purchasing Manchester United a joke. The world’s richest man has a habit of posting provocative statements on Twitter for fun, and he was at it again when he told his more than 103 million followers: “Also, I’m buying Manchester United ur welcome.”
The billionaireand CEO made the comment in reply to another of his tweets, about supporting both of the United States’ two major political parties.
The 51-year-old, who is embroiled in a lawsuit over his bid to buy Twitter, was subsequently asked on the platform if he was serious about owning Manchester United.
“No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I’m not buying any sports teams,” Musk replied, after his original tweet garnered nearly 500,000 “likes” in a matter of hours.
“Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U. They were my fav team as a kid.”
Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world of international soccer, but it has been suffering a prolonged slump. That has enraged its legions of fans around the world, many of whom want it sold by current owners, the Glazer family of the U.S.
There was no immediate reaction from United or its owners to Musk’s tweets.
Shares of the team listed on the New York Stock Exchange were down year to date, but ended Tuesday flat, with a market capitalization of $2.1 billion.
Despite calling it a joke, Musk’s tweet could bring him more grief from U.S. regulators. The Tesla founder, who recentlyin the car company, is in a major legal battle in the U.S. state of Delaware over his .
He indicated that he sold the shares in preparation for a possible loss in the legal fight over his purchase of Twitter, saying in a message on the platform: “In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close and some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock.”
Musk has been wrangling with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for several years, since he and his auto company agreed to pay $20 million each in fines to settle allegations that he’d misled investors — using his Twitter account — about plans to potentially buyout the electric car company completely. That never materialized. As part of the deal with the SEC, Musk was told to obtain legal approval for any tweets about information that could affect Tesla’s stock price. Regulators say he’s occasionally violated those terms, which he claims unfairly muzzle him.
Manchester United fans have protested against the team’s American senior management over its poor performances in recent years, as well as their involvement in a plan to start a new “Super League” of Europe’s richest teams. The Glazers also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an NFL franchise in Florida.
Manchester United, known as the Red Devils, finished last season a lowly sixth in the English Premier League. The club has made another poor start to its campaign under new coach Erik ten Hag, and is currently at the bottom of the table after two defeats in as many games.
Fresh protests against the Glazers were planned ahead of United’s next game, at home against fierce rivals Liverpool on August 22.