Billionaire Howard Schultz isn’t a fan of being called a billionaire.

On Monday, the former Starbucks CEO and chairman sat down with the New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin to talk about his book “From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America.”

Sorkin asked Schultz to respond to a question from “Winner Takes All” author Anand Giridharadas — who’s been critical of Schultz’s political ambitions — about whether or not billionaires wield too much political power in the US.

Schultz appeared to take issue with the question’s phrasing, saying, “The moniker ‘billionaire’ now has become the catchphrase.” Schultz’s team didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

“I would rephrase that and say people of means have been able to leverage their wealth and their interest in ways that are unfair,” Schultz said. “And I think that speaks to the inequality, but it also directly speaks to the special interests that are paid for by people of wealth and corporations who are looking for influence, and they have such unbelievable influence on the politicians who are steeped in the ideology of both parties.”

The likely presidential hopeful’s net worth is about $3.5 billion, according to Forbes. And his comments come at a time when notable Democratic politicians, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, are calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.

But Schultz’s concern about the word “billionaire” echoes that of another famous billionaire: Elon Musk.

On July 10, 2018, Musk tweeted that the media uses the term “billionaire” to “devalue” and “denigrate” people. Musk’s net worth is $21.3 billion, according to Forbes.

For his part, Schultz ended his response to Giridharadas’ question by stressing that he’s not beholden to either major US political party.

“All I’m trying to do is one thing: walk in the shoes of the American people,” he said.

This article originally appeared on

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