April 24, 2024

How wealthy UFO fans helped fuel fringe beliefs

In a 2017 interview with 60 Minutes, Robert Bigelow didn’t hesitate when he was asked if space aliens had ever visited Earth. “There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence,” said Bigelow, a Las Vegas-based real estate mogul and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, a company NASA had contracted to build inflatable space station habitats. Bigelow was so certain, he indicated, because he had “spent millions and millions and millions” of dollars searching for UFO evidence. “I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”

He’s right. Since the early 1990s, Bigelow has bankrolled a voluminous stream of pseudoscience on modern-day UFO lore—investigating everything from crop circles and cattle mutilations to alien abductions and UFO crashes. Indeed, if you name a UFO rabbit hole, it’s a good bet the 79-year-old tycoon has flushed his riches down it.

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