Joe Rogan, the popular podcast host and comedian, has offered a health expert $100,000 to debate Robert Kennedy Jr., a Democratic Party candidate for the 2020 presidential election, about the efficacy and safety of vaccines on his show.
Dr. Peter Hotez, dean at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, was the target of Rogan’s challenge after he lashed out at Rogan for speaking to Kennedy about vaccines on his show. While Rogan was criticized by some for giving Kennedy’s anti–vaccination stance a platform, others saw the offer as an attempt to provide a balanced conversation on the controversial subject.
Rogan extended the invitation to Hotez on Twitter. “Peter, if you claim what RFKjr is saying is ‘misinformation’ I am offering you $100,000.00 to the charity of your choice if you’re willing to debate him on my show with no time limit.”
Kennedy himself welcomed the proposed debate, writing on Twitter, “Peter. Let’s finally have the respectful, congenial, informative debate that the American people deserve.”
Hotez expressed his understanding of the offer but was cautious in committing immediately. “Joe, you have my cell, my email, I’m always willing to speak with you,” he wrote.
Rogan then questioned Hotez’s hesitance, saying his response was a “non–answer” and suggesting that Hotez was afraid of the debate. Musk also questioned Hotez’s courage, claiming that the doctor was “afraid of a public debate, because he knows he’s wrong.”
Hotez clarified his position, stressing that he wanted to have a meaningful discussion but was unwilling to be pressured to give an answer immediately. “Joe if you are serious about addressing vaccines + the fact that 200,000 unvaccinated Americans needlessly perished during our awful delta/BA.1 Covid waves (including 40,000 in our state of Texas) because they fell victims to vaccine disinformation: I want to have that discussion,” he said.
Amid the conversation, several prominent figures, including Bill Ackman and Steve Kirsch, pledged additional donations to the charity that Hotez would choose to debate Kennedy, bringing the total amount to at least $600,000.
For now, it’s unclear whether Hotez will agree to the debate, and only time will tell if the situation will continue to escalate or resolve itself.