Why Is Mark Cuban At The Presidential Debate? The Businessman Got A Special Invite

As Americans prepared for the first presidential debate of this year's election, there was one billionaire businessman whose appearance sparked a surge of media chatter. No, it wasn't Republican nominee Donald Trump. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks and an investor on ABC's Shark Tank will be sitting front and center at Hofstra University in New York when the first presidential debate kicks off. So why is Mark Cuban at the debate?

Cuban's invitation to Monday's presidential debate came directly from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign. "Just got a front row seat to watch @HillaryClinton overwhelm @realDonaldTrump at the 'Humbling at Hofstra' on Monday. It Is On!" Cuban said in a tweet posted to his official Twitter account Sept. 23. An anonymous Clinton campaign staffer reportedly confirmed the news to CNN, saying Cuban had been given "the best seat we have access to." That means Trump could find it significantly hard to avoid making eye contact with Cuban, one of his most vocal critics, at least once.

Clinton's move to seat Cuban in the front row during their first verbal match-up certainly seemed to rattle the GOP's nominee, who fired back with a threat of his own. "If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!" Trump tweeted, naming a woman President Bill Clinton admitted to having an extramarital affair with while testifying under oath in 1998.

Although Cuban once had nothing but good things to say about his fellow businessman — and even told Business Insider in 2015 he'd consider being Trump's running mate — he's since emerged as a staunch critic of the Republican nominee. Roughly a year after praising Trump for giving "honest answers rather than prepared answers," Cuban formally endorsed Clinton in a speech where he said Trump "scared" him. "Donald, initially, I really hoped he would be something different, that as a businessperson, I thought there was an opportunity there. But then he went off the reservation and went batshit crazy," The Washington Post reported Cuban said.

Cuban's criticism and trolling of Trump continued as the presidential primary unfolded into the general election. Most recently, he's called Trump "an immediate and present danger" in an interview with CNN. He's publicly questioned Trump's claim to be worth $10 billion, and has repeatedly called for the Republican nominee to make his taxes public.

Earlier this month, Cuban offered to donate $10 million to the charity of Trump's choice if the GOP nominee would agree to a four-hour interview conducted by Cuban and focused on Trump's policies. Cuban is reportedly still waiting for a response from Trump, but perhaps they'll manage to hammer out some kind of deal on the sidelines of Monday's debate.