Tuesday, May 21, 2024

On Friday morning, Robert Herjavec was tracking to be on time for a 9 a.m. flight out of John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif., until his 5-year-old twins, Hudson and Haven, announced in the car that they were hungry.
Herjavec, a Canadian businessman and star of “Shark Tank” and “Dragons’ Den,” was traveling solo with the twins. Not wanting to start a four-and-a-half-hour flight on the wrong foot, Herjavec stopped for breakfast and texted the pilot that they’d be late. “That’s the beauty of having your own plane,” Herjavec said by phone Monday. “You show up whenever you want to go.”
Herjavec didn’t know at the time that the 40-minute delay had just added fuel to a rumor spreading rapidly since the previous night, when an X user posted that a private jet, tail number N616RH, was scheduled to fly from Santa Ana to Toronto in the morning. Amateur internet sleuths connected dots — like flight trackers showing the jet had been in Oakland when Ohtani met with the Giants in San Francisco; that Ohtani had signed on that day, Dec. 8, in his first free agency; and that he’d flown on a Bombardier Global 5000 before — and determined that Shohei Ohtani, baseball unicorn, was flying private to Toronto to sign with the Blue Jays.
The delay, the theory went, was Ohtani getting cold feet. Businessman and television personality Robert Herjavec found himself the unexpected center of international attention. (Gabriel Olsen / Getty Images)
Herjavec hadn’t followed the frenzy surrounding Ohtani’s free agency. He’d been in Australia for almost a month with his family. His wife, Kym, remained in Australia for a funeral, so as Herjavec boarded the jet he was focused on keeping the twins entertained. He broke out books, board games and coloring worksheets, then turned off his phone for the duration of the flight.
As N616RH took to the air, the baseball world waited to see whether Shohei Ohtani would step onto the tarmac in Toronto. A crowd assembled outside the private terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, and a far larger one formed online as tens of thousands of people followed on free flight trackers. But it wasn’t Ohtani on board. It was a tired dad and his wired twins.

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