Elon Musk offered $5,000 (roughly Rs. 3.75 lakh) to a tech-savvy teenager to stop tracking his private jet due to concerns about his personal safety.
The teenager, a college student, was keeping tabs on the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s private jet and that of several high-profile figures using publicly available data. Musk reached out to 19-year-old Jack Sweeney in November 2021 with his concerns regarding the Twitter account Sweeney runs, called Elon Musk’s Jet (@ElonJet). But Sweeney turned down the offer and instead asked for $50,000 (roughly Rs. 37.55 lakh), saying it would cover his school fees and allow him to buy a car, possibly even a Tesla Model 3.
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The negotiation between Musk and Sweeney reportedly happened over several direct messages on Twitter. Musk initially appeared to be pressing for details of how Sweeney set up the bots to track the planes and what he earned by operating them.
@ElonJet is one of 15 flight-tracking accounts Sweeney has created, states Protocol. Each one follows a high-profile person, including the likes of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. But the account dedicated to tracking Musk’s plane has the most number of followers (over 115,000 at the time of writing).
Eventually, Musk offered Sweeney $5,000 to shut down the account. “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” Musk was quoted as saying in a report by New York Post. But Sweeney made a counter-offer of $50,000 to do that. “It [the amount] would be great support in college and would possibly allow me to get a car, maybe even a Model 3.”
Musk first said he would consider Sweeney’s offer but later said it didn’t “feel right” to pay to shut down the account. When asked about receiving direct messages from Musk, Sweeney told the New York Post it was “awesome, but kinda scary.” He said he would be interested in working for one of Musk’s companies in the future, maybe for an internship.