20 Facts About Elon Musk

Elon Musk
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Elon Musk is the planet's wealthiest person. He's also a man who inserts himself into every headline he possibly can. No matter who you are, you probably have an opinion on Elon Musk.

But how well do you really know the Tesla, SpaceX and (soon-to-be Twitter) mogul? Breeze through this list to learn something new about this polarizing billionaire.

His dad was part owner of an emerald mine.

Unsplash | FLY:D

Musk likes to see himself as a rags to riches story, but he actually started out with considerable riches. That's because his father Errol, a renaissance man who dabbled in engineering, sailing, and property development, was also half owner of an emerald mine in Zambia.

He ran a nightclub.

A nightclub
Unsplash | Antoine J.

One of the future billionaire's early hustles was running a full-blown nightclub out of the house he and some roommates shared in college. While Musk profited off the venture, he reportedly stayed away from the nightlife.

He got his start with a company he later sold for $307 million.

Elon Musk
Wikimedia Commons | The White House

Musk entered the startup game by founding Zip2, a company specializing in connecting newspaper publishers with maps and business directories. He and other investors later sold the company to Compaq for a cool $307 million.

He dropped out of Stanford.

Campus of Stanford University
Wikimedia Commons | King of Hearts

Stanford University has had about as many famous dropouts (anyone ever hear of Elizabeth Holmes?) as it does grads, and it numbers Elon Musk among its dropouts. He intended to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics, but bailed on the program after just two days.

He has IMDb credits.

Elon Musk on SNL
Giphy | Saturday Night Live

Never one to shy away from the limelight, Musk has appeared in TV programs ranging from Saturday Night Live to The Simpsons. In 2015, Musk appeared in both The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.

Online banking led him to PayPal.

PayPal logo
Unsplash | Muhammad Asyfaul

Many people know that Musk turned PayPal into a behemoth, but it isn't as well known how he got there. He founded X.com, an online payment company in 1999. The company later merged with online banking service Confinity, which had a money transfer service called PayPal. The rest is history.

SpaceX has been going strong for 20 years.

Musk may be best known for SpaceX, a company that's been a true pioneer in the field of commercial spaceflight and reusable rockets. He founded the company (as Space Exploration Technologies) way back in 2002.

He's made some classic billionaire purchases.

1976 Lotus Esprit
Wikimedia Commons | Sicnag

Some stories paint Musk as frugal, but he's never been afraid to spend money on personal luxuries. He spent close to $1 million on a 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car from the Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, back in 2013.

The Tony Stark comparisons make sense.

Elon Musk in front of Iron Man image
Wikimedia Commons | Steve Jurvetson

Musk has been compared to Tony Stark, the fictional billionaire behind Iron Man. As it turns out, there's a definite connection here, as Iron Man director Jon Favreau acknowledged that Robert Downey, Jr. emulated some of Musk's tendencies in playing the superhero.

He runs a school.

A classroom
Unsplash | MChe Lee

Among his many high-profile ventures, one decidedly lower-profile initiative of Musk's is a school called Ad Astra ("to the stars" in Latin) on the campus of SpaceX. It's a non-profit school for about 50 students.

He likes Kanye.

Kanye West in concert
Wikimedia Commons | Jason Persse

It shouldn't be a big surprise that a polarizing billionaire follows a polarizing musician. In fact, Musk doesn't just admire Kanye, he's friends with him. The two appear to have a mutual respect and a true friendship.

Tesla was almost a Google product.

A Tesla dealership
Wikimedia Commons | Raysonho

With Tesla stock soaring, Musk currently has no public plans to sell his electric car business. But when the company wasn't doing as well in 2013, Musk had a plan in place to sell it to Google for $11 billion.

He has a Canadian passport.

A Canadian flag
Unsplash | Jason Hafso

Most people know that Musk was born and raised in South Africa, but his mother, Maye Musk, hails from Regina, Saskatchewan. When he made plans to come to North America, Musk did so through applying for a Canadian passport.

He sold a game.

Young Elon Musk at a computer
Getty Images | Paul Harris

He isn't really known as a programmer, but at the tender age of 12, Musk sold the code of a video game called Blastar that he'd encoded in BASIC to a magazine for about $500.

He's received one of the biggest honors in spaceflight.

Elon Musk and Hans Koenigsmann
Wikimedia Commons | NASA Kennedy

Thanks to his pioneering development of commercial rockets, Elon Musk received the prestigious FAI Gold Space Medal in 2010. The honor is for those who have "contributed greatly to the development of aeronautics."

One of his companies is Boring.

Boring Company tunnel borer
Wikimedia Commons | Steve Jurvetson

No, it isn't boring, it's Boring! Musk founded The Boring Company in 2016, a company centered around boring tunnels for future transportation projects. In a weird stunt, the company sold 2,000 novelty flamethrowers to the public.

He's dabbled in the recording industry.

Elon Musk
Wikimedia Commons | Steve Jurvetson

No one's going to mistake Musk for a musician, but that isn't going to stop him from trying. He dropped an EDM track called "Don't Doubt Ur Vibe" on SoundCloud in early 2020.

He's called out Russia.

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Musk tweeted out some antagonistic messages directed at the Russian government. He also personally oversaw the delivery of thousands of Starlink internet terminals to the country, ensuring steady internet connectivity.

He claims he's cash poor.

Elon Musk
Wikimedia Commons | NASA/Bill Ingalls

When he isn't spending billions on new ventures or millions on toys, Musk claims to be a frugal person. In fact, he's pledged to sell his personal possessions in the past and has even described himself as "cash poor."

He'll probably be a trillionaire soon.

Elon Musk
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Musk is currently the richest man in the world with a net worth north of a quarter of a trillion dollars. If current projections hold steady, he'll be the world's first trillionaire as soon as 2024.