Despite media reports to the contrary, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma is not funding the education of his 8-year-old doppelgänger, affectionately known online as “mini Ma.”
According to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, the tech mogul offered to fund the education of his lookalike from elementary school to college, winning headlines for his purported generosity. However, a spokesperson from Alibaba
on Tuesday denied the reports.
“This news is completely false,” he told Fortune.
Xinhua reported that Fan Xiaoqin, a little boy from China’s Jiangxi province, was dubbed “mini Jack Ma” in 2014, when photos of him were taken by someone in his village and circulated online bearing a close resemblance to the tech giant’s younger self. “The boy soon became a cyber-celebrity and his plight has moved many,” the agency reported. “Ma was impressed with the look-alike.”
Xinhua reported that Alibaba had released a statement on Sunday confirming Ma’s commitment, saying: “To fund one child’s education is easy, but in order to help millions of poor children, more resources need to be used.”
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Jack Ma himself did not come from wealthy means. He began his career as an English teacher and translator and went through a series of job rejections early in his career, including a rejection from KFC, before founding Alibaba Online in 1999.
Since then, Ma, one of China’s richest men, has appeared on TIME’s 100 most influential people list, and by some estimates, has a net worth of more than $30 billion.