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Friday, April 16, 2021

Self-proclaimed ‘50 Billion Dollar Man’ threatens UF student

<p>Dan Pena</p>

Dan Pena

A self-proclaimed “$50 Billion Man” threatened to break a UF student’s neck before leaving a speaking event on campus March 21.

Dan Pena, a controversial businessman and speaker, verbally attacked Juan “Verse” Lozano, a 22-year-old UF public relations senior, during a Q&A session hosted by the UF Entrepreneurship Club at the New Physics Building on Museum Road and Gale Lemerand Drive.

Pena’s website claims his mentees have garnered $50 billion in value with his business guidance. The Alligator could not verify these claims.

Lozano questioned the existence of Pena’s companies and called him a fraud. A video published on Lozano’s Youtube channel shows Pena approaching Lozano and saying, “Now before I snap your neck, kid, put the f------ microphone down.”

Pena grabs toward Lozano’s shoulder before the video cuts.

Rachael Bunn, the Entrepreneurship Club president, said Pena’s representative sent the club a string of emails in August requesting to speak at the university. About 60 people attended the event, including 40 of Pena’s supporters, the 21-year-old UF advertising junior said. The rest of the audience consisted of UF students and alumni.

The club didn’t pay Pena to speak, she said.

Before Lozano got to his question, Pena grabbed the microphone from his hand. Pena said he was done speaking and handed the microphone back to Bunn, Lozano said. A group of seven of Pena’s supporters surrounded Lozano and began yelling at him, he said.

Lozano left after about 10 minutes with two friends because he feared for his safety, he said. He did not file a report with police.

The club agreed to host Pena to foster an open dialogue, Bunn said. But the night took a turn when Pena referred to the crowd using a slur and said they should commit suicide if they did not work hard, she said.

Pena demonstrated shooting himself in the mouth, she said.

The club expected him to give a speech on working hard to become successful. Instead, he was vulgar and disrespectful, Bunn said.

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“It kind of drifted into what his idea of a motivational speech is,” she said.

Bunn said she ended the Q&A session and called University Police to escort Pena and his supporters from the building after he threatened Lozano. UPD didn’t respond to a request for comment on the incident.

Lozano said Pena’s speech was extremely inappropriate. Pena brandished a cricket paddle and told a childhood story about dropping a fishbowl on a teacher’s head to kill her, Lozano said.

“Whenever he talks, it’s just shock value,” he said. “It sounds like he’s trying to shock you into believing him.”

Pena declined to comment for this story.

Lozano said he researched Pena and his companies after Pablo Padillo, the club’s vice president of external affairs, expressed concerns over the speaker’s credibility and outlandish behavior. Padillo and Lozano said they could not find any credible information on Pena’s companies.

Lozano said he was particularly disturbed by Pena’s Youtube channel and rhetoric.

“I knew that if I didn’t confront him head-on, there was nobody else in that room who was going to,” Lozano said.

Contact Amanda Rosa at Follow her on Twitter at @AmandaNicRosa.

Dan Pena

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