After Black-owned restaurant Burgerim in Dallas' West End was vandalized on May 30, a local school teacher and aspiring YouTuber known as Ezel Moon went to the restaurant show his support.
But Moon ended up with a lot more than just a burger. He also landed an interview with Mark Cuban.
Moon went to Burgerim Westend that Saturday, which is one of the only Black-owned businesses in the neighborhood, to order food to help out, he says.
After picking up his order, Moon (who asked to be identified by his stage name) was about to head out to a local protest condemning the killing of George Floyd. But then he noticed billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban was also at the restaurant. Moon knew he had to approach him.
Cuban "was cool about it," Moon says. "I walked up to him and was like, 'Hey look, I'm not going to bother you. I just want a photo and then I'm going to go. And he was like, 'Oh yeah, that's fine.'"
It could have been just a good Instagram moment. But instead, Moon, who hosts "The EMC" interview show on YouTube, decided to take a chance. He posted the photo of himself and Cuban to Twitter, tagged Cuban and wrote, "hey we met yesterday I hope to interview you online or in person and play you in mini air hockey."
Moon was not expecting a response — he's gotten many "nos" when asking for interviews before.
"I have a list of 150 people I want to interview. [Cuban] was actually number 58 on that list," Moon says. "The No. 1 person is Barack Obama. I keep speaking it into existence."
But four hours later, Cuban replied to Moon's tweet, saying "let's go."
"Ecstatic," Moon sent Cuban a direct Twitter message and they agreed to meet at The Island Spot restaurant and bar in Dallas on June 4. (Moon picked The Island Spot because he wanted to continue to support Black-owned businesses, which he says Cuban wanted to do as well.)
Moon started his YouTube channel with hopes of having "frank conversations [to] help the next generation, my community, and take steps forward to knock down barriers are set up to divide us." So amid the Black Lives Matter protests, Moon and Cuban had a candid conversation.
For instance, Moon asked Cuban how he will educate his three children (Alexis, 16; Alyssa, 13; and Jake, 10) about racism.
"What values are you instilling in [your children] that will make it so they're not apprehensive when they meet my son?" Moon, who has a 1-year-old son named Michael, asked Cuban. "Because when he gets older, and he is showing maturity as being a young Black man in America, I don't want there to be any issues between Jake and Michael."
"That's an important question," Cuban told Moon.
"They're coming with us to rallies tomorrow. As much as you want to say, 'They won't see it and they just won't be that person,' there are too many pressures around them," Cuban said.
Cuban added that he and his wife, Tiffany, want their kids to "respect cultural differences."
"What we're trying to do is get them to understand that everybody grows up differently and different people have different stresses and you've got to respect them, understand them and anticipate that not everybody comes from the same place," he said.
Cuban has been vocal about racial injustice since protests over Floyd's death, saying that white people "are the ones that need to change" to begin to dismantle systemic racism.
However, it hasn't always been that way. As a Twitter user pointed out on June 5, in a 2014 interview at Inc.'s GrowCo conference, Cuban said that he would cross the street if he saw a "Black kid in a hoodie" while addressing an NBA vote to potentially terminate then Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling over racist comments.
Responding on Twitter the same day, Cuban admitted to the comment, and said he has "learned a lot since then."
"I used to think the best way to be was color blind and to never use race or gender as a factor," Cuban tweeted in response. "That was a mistake. I've done a lot more listening to people's experiences since then."
Cuban also told Moon he has now learned that using the phrase "color blind" only adds to the problem.
"I always thought treating people the right way meant being color blind. And that's not it," he told Moon, adding that there's a perspective that "there's no way we have" as white people.
"It's really about recognizing that my background gives me a unique perspective, and your background gives you a unique perspective," he told Moon.
Cuban also told Moon he has learned a lot from Cynt Marshall, the first Black female CEO of an NBA team, whom he hired to run the Mavericks in 2018 after an investigation revealed decades of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct issues at the organization.
"She's amazing and understands better than I could. I could say, 'I'm reading and talking [about racism].' I think I might know, but I don't know," Cuban said. "She's a whole lot better than me."
In addition to racism, Cuban and Moon also talked business. He gave Moon some "words of wisdom" about his YouTube gig, Moon says.
"Do this as much as you can. Don't think it's got to be the 'right person' to interview," Cuban told Moon. "Being nervous goes away with time. Just keep on doing it."
And "don't think that you only need big names," Cuban said. "[Interview] anybody that you think has a story. Anybody that you connect with. Build up, because every time you do this, you're going to become more confident and you're going to learn."
He also told Moon to focus on one thing and make sure you're good at it, Moon says.
The interview, which published on Moon's YouTube channel on Monday, has over 8,000 views so far and is "the most viewed thing on my channel right now," Moon says.
And since the interview, the two have stayed in touch.
"I talk to him every day now," Moon says of Cuban, adding that he is thankful that Cuban saw "something in me and [took] time to do the interview."
It's not the first time Cuban has responded to a "cold call" from an aspiring entrepreneur.
Adam Lyons, a 25-year-old high school dropout, cold emailed Cuban in 2012 asking for an investment in his insurance rate comparison start-up, The Zebra. Cuban responded and ultimately invested an undisclosed amount in his company.
Similarly, Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone cold emailed Cuban in 2015 asking for an investment in their space start-up, Relativity Space. Cuban agreed and later invested half a million dollars in the company.
Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that Moon's son is 1.