Elon Musk recently told a court that, despite his vast paper worth, he didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay $75,000 in damages after the British diver from last summer’s Thai cave rescue mission sued him for defamation. But now, the Tesla CEO is handing out $1 million to a tree-planting cause because a YouTuber asked him to.
On October 25, YouTube star Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, who has 25 million subscribers to his random giveaway-themed channel, started a campaign to raise $20 million from his fellow social media celebrities to plant 20 million trees ($1 for each tree) around the world in an effort to tackle climate change.
Musk showed interest initially but wanted to know more specifics. “Sounds cool. Where are the trees being planted and what kind of trees?” he asked MrBeast in a Twitter comment on Sunday.
Then, Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee, another YouTube star with a large following who interviewed Musk at a Tesla (TSLA) factory last year, jumped into the conversation and explained to Musk that donations will go straight to the Arbor Day Foundation, the world’s largest nonprofit dedicated to tree planting, “for planting a tree somewhere ‘in a forest of high need’ around the globe.”
Although the response didn’t precisely answer Musk’s two-part question, Musk seemed immediately convinced. “OK. Sounds legit. Will donate one million trees,” he replied.
And, being classic Elon in spontaneous situations like this, he has also changed his Twitter handle from “elon” to “Treelon” for the time being and updated his profile image with a picture of trees.
The generous giveaway instantly put Musk in the champion spot on the campaign’s top donors list. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sits at a distant second place with 150,000 trees committed, followed by MrBeast himself, who pledged 100,002 trees. The campaign has, so far, raised close to 8.2 million trees in total.