Tron CEO Justin Sun showing he's not a hostage, posing with his "comms guy" whom he also called his "bodyguard," via Twitter, July 23, 2019.
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Justin Sun-Warren Buffett $4.6 million lunch delay mystery deepens

Calling into question Sun’s story of kidney stones, the Tron founder posted an abject apology on Weibo for over-marketing the meal

Tron founder Justin Sun may not have been detained in China this week, but he certainly annoyed the powers that be there recently.

On Thursday, Sun wrote an abject, public apology on his Chinese Weibo account for “over-marketing” his high-profile lunch with Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett. Two months ago, Sun spent $4.6 million in a charity auction to win the lunch with the legendary investor, and has been hyping it by inviting his seven allotted guests one at a time via Twitter.

Sun’s goal with the lunch is to try and change the legendary investor’s views on cryptocurrencies. Buffett has said that while blockchain technology is important, Bitcoin is “rat poison squared.” On July 24, Sun abruptly postponed the lunch—scheduled for the next day—after what the Tron Foundation said was a kidney stone attack.

But rumors swirled in the cryptocurrency Twitterverse that he had been detained in China after two Chinese publications reported that he had been accused of illegal fundraising and money laundering, as well as gambling and spreading pornography. 

Late on the 24th, Sun took to Periscope for a live-stream chat with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in the background to counter false reports in two Chinese publications that said he had been detained in China. Bloomberg later reported that two Tron executives had been detained in China. As of publishing time, the Tron Network was down, although it’s too soon to say that this isn’t a coincidence.

Speaking to his Chinese Weibo followers in a now-inaccessible post, Sun wrote that he was “feel deeply ashamed of my excessive self-promotion as well as my penchant for hyping up thing,” adding that it “evolved into an excessive marketing campaign that became uncontrollable and failed,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

He also confessed to “immature words and behaviors,” and pledged that “[i]n everything I do, I will discard my own selfishness, and put the interest of the country, the industry, and the public first.”

The process “led to a negative influence on the public and also drew concerns from regulators who care about me,” Sun said, according to CoinDesk, which noted that his post mentioned the word regulator 13 times. 

In his Weibo letter, Sun also apologized to the chief of Caixin, one of the Chinese journals reporting his detention, China Daily reported. Sun proclaimed his intention to speak to its leader with “profound respect and humility,” it added. 

Sun’s Chinese-language apology was not repeated in English, and the entire incident is notably absent from his Twitter feed, other than a retweeted announcement of the postponement by the charity the auction benefitted.

Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson owns no cryptocurrencies.