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This 21-year-old is turning down a $100k grant from Peter Thiel because of Trump

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This 21-year-old is turning down a $100k grant from Peter Thiel because of Trump

WATCH | Cosmo Scharf, one of the 2016 Peter Thiel fellows, is returning the money he received from the billionaire's foundation because of Thiel's support of Trump.

Cosmo Scharf, 21, was over the moon when he was notified that he'd been selected as a Peter Thiel fellow in 2016.

The Peter Thiel Foundation awards $100,000 to young entrepreneurs so that they can drop out of school and "build new things." This year, Scharf was one of the 29 lucky ones.

And just months into the fellowship, he's giving the money back and parting ways with the foundation because of Donald Trump.

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The former USC student dropped out of school to take the fellowship, and now he's dropping out of the fellowship. (Photo: YouTube/VR LA

About 6,000 applied for the fellowship in 2016, and Scharf was one of the 29 young entrepreneurs selected to receive the $100,000.

Why he's doing it

Scharf, who's the founder of The Virtual Reality Foundation, says he's abandoning the fellowship because of venture capitalist Thiel's support of Donald Trump.

Scharf, who realizes $100k is "a lot of money," took to Facebook days after the election to announce his departure. In his post, he said:

"I refuse to continue taking money from someone who has contributed millions of dollars to the ultimate success of our next Hitler-elect."

I refuse to continue taking money from someone who has contributed millions of dollars to the ultimate success of our next Hitler-elect.
Cosmo Scharf

In October 2016, Thiel pledged to donate $1.25 million in support of Trump, through Super PACs and through donations directly to the campaign, according to the New York Times.

Scharf explained his reasons for abandoning the fellowship in detail on social media.

A long time coming

The 21-year-old former USC student says he was aware of Thiel's support when he accepted the fellowship, which evoked a "crisis of faith." But he said the Nov. 8 election results are what pushed him over the edge.

"I cannot justify being associated with someone who helped a psychopathic, sexist, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, poisonous demagogue rise to power."

This is my tiny way of sending a message about what I believe in.
Cosmo Scharf

Scharf told Business Insider the Thiel Fellowship was "nice and didn't pressure him to reconsider."

Circa reached out to the Thiel Foundation for comment but did not hear back.

What now?

He says he knows his actions won't change the results of the election or "solve the plethora of complex issues our nation faces," but says this is his "tiny way of sending a message about what I believe in."

Scharf won't be taking any more of the money left in the grant, and the money he's already taken? He'll be donating it to a charity trying to fight climate change, something Thiel has said he's "skeptical" of and Trump has called a "hoax."

Would you do the same?

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