‘Shark Tank’: Richard Branson Explains Throwing Water On Mark Cuban

Season 9 of Shark Tank has been chock full of big name guest sharks, not least of whom was Richard Branson who appeared in early October. The episode was memorable not only for Branson’s presence on the panel but his mini-water fight with Mark Cuban during the pitch of Yunha Kim, who created the meditation app Simple Habit.

Cuban told ET Online before the season started that he and Branson got physical, but after the episode aired, Branson wrote on his Virgin blog that he thought it was all in good fun. It was, however, based on honest feelings of wanting to defend Kim after Cuban used a term to which Branson took offense, although he was later told it had a different meaning in the context of Shark Tank.

“Mark called one of the entrepreneurs a gold digger – which I thought was rather offensive. I didn’t realise the word ‘Gold Digger’ was used on the show to mean someone who doesn’t need the investment money but comes on ‘Shark Tank’ for the free publicity. I tried to fight for her honour, and Mark called me out for not understanding the show. I playfully threw a little water over him, thinking he was giving me the go signal to do so, but he wasn’t at all impressed with the impromptu shower, so threw some water right back at me.”

Branson went on to say that he apologized to Cuban after the shoot, offering to shine his shoes while he changed his shirt. Cuban apparently relented, accepting the apology. As for Kim, she told Duke University’s The Chronicle that she was “surprised and shocked” to be called a “gold digger” but decided to just focus on her company and continue with her pitch. Kim left the tank without a deal after rejecting an offer of $600,000 for 15 percent from Branson and Robert Herjavec.

However, Branson apparently wasn’t the only person who found the term “gold digger” troubling, even if the sharks often complain about people pitching the show for the advertisement without having any honest intentions of trying to land a deal. Refinery 29 said the term “gold digger” was gendered and a male member of the panel would never use that term to refer to a male entrepreneur.

Anyone who watches Shark Tank regularly, however, knows male and female entrepreneurs alike are often accused of just using the show for free publicity. Cuban himself has also used the term “gold digger” to refer to male entrepreneurs, as he revealed on Twitter shortly after the program aired.

CNBC reported after the show that fellow sharks weighed in on Twitter, such as Lori Greiner pointing out the irony of the fight happening during the pitch for a meditation app and Kevin O’Leary joking that his center seat hopefully wasn’t damp after the incident. O’Leary wasn’t present for that taping and Branson was sitting in his usual spot.

Shark Tank is featuring a number of high profile guest sharks this season, including a holdover from last season (Chris Sacca), Branson, Bethenny Frankel, Alex Rodriguez, Sara Blakely, and Rohan Oza. On Sunday night’s episode, Frankel will make her debut and in another new episode, Rodriguez will make his second appearance.

Shark Tank airs Sunday nights on ABC.

[Featured Image by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for SiriusXM]

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