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Japanese billionaire Maezawa pulls out of dating show that promised the moon

This month, the 44-year-old announced he was seeking single females over 20 willing to vie to become his girlfriend for a documentary to be aired on streaming service AbemaTV. Almost 28,000 people applied.

Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa speaks near a Falcon 9 rocket during the announcement by Elon Musk to be the first private passenger who will fly around the Moon aboard the SpaceX BFR launch vehicle, at the SpaceX headquarters and rocket factory on 17 September 2018 in Hawthorne. Picture: AFP

TOKYO - Japanese fashion billionaire Yusaku Maezawa has pulled out of a documentary search for a girlfriend to take on his voyage around the moon with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, citing his “mixed feelings” about participating.

This month, the 44-year-old announced he was seeking single females over 20 willing to vie to become his girlfriend for a documentary to be aired on streaming service AbemaTV. Almost 28,000 people applied.

Maezawa said he is “extremely remorseful” about the decision to pull out, apologising to the applicants and AbemaTV staff in posts to Twitter, where he is Japan’s most-followed account with more than 7 million followers.

Maezawa, the founder and former CEO of online fashion retailer Zozo, which he last year sold to SoftBank Group Corp, is known for launching big ideas with much fanfare - though some of them don’t pan out as planned.

As CEO, he launched the Zozosuit, a polka-dot bodysuit that allowed users to collect body measurements to order custom-made clothes but which did not work well in practice. He also outlined an ambitious overseas expansion plan that wildly undershot targets, leading to a crash in the company’s stock price.

Maezawa has pledged to give away $9 million to his Twitter followers in what he says is a “social experiment” to see if the payment boosts their happiness.

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