“It’s a serious social experiment.” So says Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa about his plan to give away 1 billion Japanese yen — about $9 million — to 1,000 random Twitter followers this week.
Believe it or not, this is free money, no strings attached. Well, almost no strings: Each recipient will have to fill out follow-up surveys asking what impact the cash has had on their lives. It was not clear exactly how the amount — $9,000 per person — will be disbursed.
Maezawa’s stated goal is to test the premise of a basic income — the notion that every citizen should get a guaranteed, regular stipend. Normally, the idea is that the government should provide these unconditional stipends. But since most governments aren’t yet eager to institute a basic income, some wealthy individuals are taking matters into their own hands.
Maezawa, whom Forbes deems to be the 22nd-richest person in Japan, is the creator of a popular fashion retail site called Zozotown. He announced his giveaway in a January 1 tweet, stipulating that Twitter users would need to follow and retweet him before the contest closed on January 7 in order to be eligible.
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