Japan's billionaire space tourist gives away money as he returns to Earth

Business Insider US

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa spent 12 days in space.
  • Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa returned to earth on Monday after a 12-day trip to space.
  • As promised, Maezawa started giving away money through a Japanese app the day before.
  • It's just one of his numerous activities in space, including making YouTube videos and creating an NFT.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is back on Earth after firing up a money-giving campaign from the International Space Station on Sunday.

Maezawa, who made his fortune by founding the online retailer Zozo, announced in early December that he'd be giving away cash while on a 12-day trip to space. He and his assistant Yozo Hirano and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 8 in the Soyuz MS-20 and returned to Earth on Monday.

He launched the giveaway on Sunday via the kifutown donation platform. Everyone who participates in the lottery will receive money through the app that can be used at participating shops or donated to charitable causes. Amounts distributed range from 500 Japanese yen ($4.40) to 1 million yen ($8,814,) local media reported.

Maezawa stayed busy during his time on the International Space Station (ISS,) uploading numerous videos on his YouTube account showing off how to use a toilet and documenting everyday activities like brushing teeth in zero gravity, among other feats.

He also managed to call SoftBank Group founder and CEO Masayoshi Son last week from orbit, the latter announced on Twitter.

"Maezawa's call to my mobile connected!! It's great he's doing well!!" Son wrote, according to a Reuters translation. "It's wonderful when dreams come true!!"

That's on top of hand-delivering Japanese food via Uber Eats to astronauts stationed at the ISS, minting an NFT, reviewing a manga titled Space Brothers, and launching a pre-order for clothes inspired by his trip.


The Japanese billionaire had declined to reveal the amount he paid for the trip in an interview with the Associated Press, but added that reports of him spending over $80 million were "pretty much" accurate.

Maezawa also hit back at criticism that the ultra-rich should use their wealth to help people on Earth instead of traveling to space. "Those who criticize are perhaps those who have never been to space," Maezawa told the AP.

He is scheduled to visit the moon with Elon Musk's SpaceX in 2023.

The 46-year-old has a history of giving away money on Twitter. In 2020, he announced he'd hand out $9 million of his $2 billion fortune to his Twitter followers.

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