He makes a wildly celebrated advance in mathematics, gets awarded the Fields Medal and says (according to Wikipedia):
How about a bunch of money and the Millennium Prize?
What motivates this guy? He’s quit his job because some guy says he’s not all he’s cracked up to be and now lives with his mom, unemployed. What’s the most interesting potential narrative? What would Robin Hanson think of this? Tyler Cowen no doubt thinks this guy is a raging autistic. Maybe that’s the answer.
Oh, wait, maybe he’ll enlighten us:
“Either to make some ugly thing”—a fuss about the math community’s lack of integrity—“or, if I didn’t do this kind of thing, to be treated as a pet. Now, when I become a very conspicuous person, I cannot stay a pet and say nothing. That is why I had to quit.”
Ah, here it is. Tyler’s right:
Mikhail Gromov, the Russian geometer, said that he understood Perelman’s logic: “To do great work, you have to have a pure mind. You can think only about the mathematics. Everything else is human weakness. Accepting prizes is showing weakness.”