Despondent Manchester United fans were lulled into thinking that all their Christmases had come at once this week when Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, said he was going to buy the ailing Premier League club.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO, whose net worth Forbes reports to be $270 billion, announced on social media that he was planning to buy the club from the Glazer family.
That pledge would have been music to the ears of the beleaguered United fans who are planning another protest against the club's owners ahead of Monday's home clash against Liverpool, who won 5-0 at Old Trafford and beat them 4-0 at Anfield last season.
Given the fact that United began the season under new manager Erik ten Hag with a 2-1 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion and then followed that up with Saturday's humiliating 4-0 defeat at Brentford, the arrival of Jurgen Klopp's side (who are also winless from their two games this season) is not one many United supporters are relishing.
Also, I'm buying Manchester United ur welcome— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022
Unfortunately for United supporters, the 51-year-old then had to explain to his 103.4 million followers that he was merely making a joke, which is never a good sign of how well your comedy material has landed.
It turns out that the prospect of Musk taking over at various sporting enterprises is a recurring theme in his laugh-a-minute social media output.
No, this is a long-running joke on Twitter. I'm not buying any sports teams.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022
Standup is my side-hustle— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022
Still, even after dismissing the prospect of riding in to save United, Musk has still left the possibility dangling that he might make a bid for the Old Trafford boardroom one day by revealing his childhood fandom of the club.
Although, if it were any team, it would be Man U. They were my fav team as a kid.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 17, 2022
Unsurprisingly, Musk's tweet prompted a wave of reaction from United fans, many of whom seemed perfectly happy with the takeover to go ahead as long as it brought the much-derided Glazer era to an end. One even suggested that Musk rechristen Old Trafford the same unconventional name as the son he had with ex-partner Grimes.
And at this point I don't care if you rename Old Trafford as "X Æ A-12 Musk Stadium"— ً (@TheFergusonWay) August 17, 2022
Just buy the club.
Some weren't confident that a billionaire-led revolution would be enough to save United from themselves after a wretched start to the season.
Let's be honest, not even Elon Musk could save Man United at this point... https://t.co/q5FawJDeaT— Jake Barford (@BFordLancer48) August 17, 2022
As per usual, poor old Harry Maguire also managed to get himself unwittingly caught in the crossfire, with one cheeky fan pleading with Musk to recruit the centre-back for his next space exploration project.
Please send maguire to Mars— ' (@bu2iu) August 17, 2022
It would cost Musk approximately $2.4 billion to buy Manchester United, according to their current stock-market valuation, which is less than 1% of his current net worth. However, he could make history by being the first person to purchase a football team using dogecoin, his cryptocurrency of choice.
"I'm mainly supporting [dogecoin], frankly, because I think doge has the memes and dogs and it seems to have a sense of humor and doesn't take himself too seriously," he said last week.
Using meme currency to buy a meme football club? How apt.
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Of course, Musk isn't the only person with the financial clout to purchase Manchester United, with several of his contemporaries in the upper echelons of the Forbes rich list possessing the means to launch bids of their own should the mood take them.
Bernard Arnault ($173.9bn net worth, according to Forbes)
French billionaire Arnault is the co-founder and chairman of the Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton corporation, the world's largest purveyors of luxury goods. It would be worth it just to see what a wardrobe of home, away and third kits designed by Louis Vuitton would look like.
Jeff Bezos ($169.2bn)
Bezos has transformed the once-humble online bookshop Amazon into an omnipresent global marketplace known for its rigorous scrutiny of workers' productivity. Manchester United as a team covered just 95.6 kilometres of ground in their abysmal 4-0 defeat against Brentford while the Bees covered 109.4 km. Just saying.
Bill Gates ($114.8bn)
The Microsoft founder is famed for his philanthropy and could perhaps be persuaded into buying United as a charitable enterprise, gradually nursing the ailing club back to health. After all, the Gates Foundation he runs with ex-wife Melinda is committed to "tackling the greatest inequities in our world," and many United fans will feel that finishing a dismal sixth in the Premier League last season ranks among them.
Larry Page ($103.5bn) and Sergey Brin ($100.4bn)
With the billionaire Google co-founders at the helm, former United chief Ed Woodward's quest to make the Red Devils the biggest football club on the internet would surely be forever cemented.
Mark Zuckerberg ($64.4bn)
With no Premier League title since 2013 and no silverware of any description since 2017, perhaps hoisting digital trophies aloft in the Metaverse is the best United can hope for these days?
Jim Ratcliffe ($13bn)
Later on Wednesday, sources confirmed to ESPN that British petrochemicals billionaire Ratcliffe would be interested in buying United if the club was for sale. Ratcliffe is from the Manchester area and a long-standing fan of the club, and it may take that kind of personal connection to make someone risk a portion of their fortune on United in their current state.