20 of the Most Amazing Facts About Elon Musk
It is impossible to talk about modern day technology without mentioning Elon Musk. Also, when talking about financial success, this tech-guru is one of the most respected and adored in the world. But who exactly is Elon Musk, what does he do and why is he so popular? This article digs deep into some of the most interesting facts about Elon Musk that you probably didn’t know.
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Reeve Musk is a renowned businessman, industrial designer, and engineer. He is popularly known for founding SpaceX, a company that designs, manufacturers and launches rockets and spacecraft. He is also the CEO and product designer of Tesla, Inc., co-founder of Neuralink, founder of The Boring Company and co-founder of OpenAl.
Here are some interesting facts about Elon Musk’s life that will blow your mind.
1. His parents thought he was deaf
Growing up, Musk was such an introvert that his parents thought he was deaf. He used to be carried away by his own thoughts to a point of losing touch with his own surroundings. After several medical tests, it was determined that he was not deaf, and that he enjoyed getting lost in his own thoughts. Speaking about his childhood, Musk’s mother Maye Musk was quoted in Ashlee Vance’s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” as saying:
“He goes into his brain and then you just see he is in another world. He still does that. Now I just leave him be because I know he is designing a new rocket or something.”
2. He used to sell candy in South Africa
While growing up in South Africa, Musk, his brother Kimbal, and their cousins used to sell homemade chocolate Easter eggs to wealthy families in Pretoria. They would travel door-to-door, selling Easter eggs for up to 20 times their normal cost. From selling candy door-to-door in South Africa, Elon would then grow up to become one of the richest men on the planet, and among the most iconic in the world of technology.
3. He was bullied in school
Musk has opened up about his childhood countless times, most recently in an interview with “60 Minutes.” For the umpteenth time, he revealed how he was a victim of bullying back in grade school in Pretoria, South Africa. He added that the reason he was targeted by bullies in school was because he was the “youngest” and “smallest” kid in his class. He also had a nerdy look and appeared to love the company of books more than anything else in school. (CBS News)
4. He relocated to North America as a teenager
Elon moved from South Africa to North America at the age of 17 to pursue his college studies. While in America, he claimed to have survived on $1 a day. In interview with Star Talk Radio, he revealed:
“I went more for the hotdogs and oranges, you do get really tired of hot dogs and oranges after a while.” (Star Talk Radio)
5. Musk left South Africa to avoid compulsory military service
During the apartheid era, white South Africans were required to serve in the military to provide the much-needed manpower to fight against rebellious black South Africans, led by Nelson Mandela. But Musk did not seem to be impressed by the idea of serving a system that oppressed the locals; he chose to leave the country to avoid the mandatory military service. In the book Rocketeers, the renowned engineer and businessman explained:
“I don’t have an issue with serving in the military per se, but serving in the South African army suppressing black people just didn’t seem like a really good way to spend time.” (Rocketeers)
6. He has three nationalities
By virtue of being born to a South African-born British father in Pretoria, Elon Musk is a citizen of South Africa by birth. He is also a citizen of Canada, his mother’s country of origin. In 2002, he became a citizen of the United States, consequently sealing his third nationality. (CBS News)
7. Coded his first game aged 12
By age 12, Elon Musk was already into coding and software development. He coded his first game at just 12 years of age and sold it for $500. The 1984 game, named Blastar, is still available to play online for free. (Blastar) – Try it out here!
8. Rented a 10-bedroom house and turned it into a night club
While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk, together with his friend Adeo Ressi, bought a 10-bedroom house and turned it into an ad hoc nightclub. In the book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance, Musk said:
“I was paying my own way through college and could make an entire month’s rent in one night, Adeo was in charge of doing cool s–t around the house, and I would run the party.”
The duo would mostly charge $5 per person as entrance fee. In the book, Musk also explained that the house parties were usually full, with at least 500 people in attendance. (CNBC)
9. Dropped out of university after just two days
After studying business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk moved to California and joined Stanford University to pursue a PhD in energy physics. But two days after his enrollment, he dropped out of the program to focus on his tech career at a time when the internet had begun to rise in popularity. Musk would then launch his first company, Zip2 Corporation three years later. (Biography)
10. Musk has seven children, six are alive, and are both boys
Musk’s first child with Canadian author Justine Wilson died 10 weeks after birth due to sudden infant death syndrome, also known as SIDS. As a result of the death of his first-born child, Musk’s next five sons with Justine were born through vitro fertilization; he had twins in 2004 and triplets in 2006. Musk and Justine divorced in 2008 and to date, they share custody of all five sons.
The PayPal co-founder also has a son with Canadian musician Grimes. He was born on May 4, 2020 and named X Æ A-12. However, the child’s name was considered illegal in California because it contained characters that were not in the English alphabet. His name was later on changed to X Æ A-Xii. But, given that “Æ” was also not considered a letter in the English alphabet, the child’s name was finally changed to X AE A-XII, with “X” being his first name and “AE A-XII” his middle name. (Forbes)
11. He married the same woman twice, and divorced her twice
This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting facts about Elon Musk. Following his divorce from his first wife Justine Wilson, Musk started dating actress Talulah Riley, and then married her in 2010. However, two years later, the billionaire engineer terminated the relationship. He tweeted:
“It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day.”
A year later, Musk and Riley remarried, but the marriage did not last for long. In 2014, Musk filed for a second divorce from his then wife Riley, but the divorce was rescinded. Two years later, Riley filed for a final divorce from Musk, and the marriage was officially dissolved in late 2016. (Forbes)
12. He signed the Giving Pledge
The Giving Pledge is a commitment by some of the wealthiest people in the world to dedicate the larger share of their wealth to philanthropic projects across the world. Elon Musk aside, some other notable members of the Giving Pledge include Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warrant Buffet, among others. (The Giving Pledge)
If you thought his personal life story was fascinating, then you are in for even more surprising details. Here are some interesting facts about Elon Musk’s career that explain just how much of a genius he really is.
13. He is a member of the PayPal mafia
The PayPal Mafia refers to ex-PayPal employees and founders who have since developed famous and successful technology companies. Some other notable Mafia members include Jawed Karim, co-founder of YouTube, Andrew McCormack, co-founder of Yahoo, Reid Hoffman, founder of Linkedin and Russel Simmons, founder of Yelp Inc.
14. Elon Musk’s net worth is $137B
As of December 2020, Elon Musk is believed to be worth $137 Billion. The bulk of the money derives from Tesla and SpaceX. (Forbes)
15. He is the third richest man in the world
As of December 2020, the top three richest men in the world include Jeff Bezos of Amazon ($181 Billion), LVMH’s Bernard Arnault & Family ($147.4 Billion), and then Elon Musk ($137.3 Billion) seals the list at third place. He is ranked higher than Microsoft founder Bill Gates (4th) and his Facebook counterpart Mark Zuckerberg (5th). (Forbes)
16. He supports the colonization of Mars
Musk hopes that his Falcon Rocket will pave way for space tourism and eventually, the colonization of Mars. He claims to be working towards interplanetary living, which would make transportation between Mars and Earth cheaper and easier. (CNBC)
17. Musk wants to reduce the cost of transport to Mars to $100,000
The cost of transport from Earth to the International Space Station has dropped by 90% thanks to Musk’s inventions at SpaceX. Prior to his intervention, the cost of reaching the ISS was approximately $1 billion per mission. It has since reduced to just $60 million per mission, but the billionaire businessman wants it to drop down even further to at least $100,000. (CNBC)
18. He wants to move at least one million people to Mars in 40 years
The tech guru has always been open about his plans to colonize Mars. But it now appears that he has more up his sleeve than initially thought. In 2016, Musk spoke at a conference in Mexico, revealing that he would need between 40 to 100 years to move at least one million people to Mars in order to ensure the survival of the human race. Remember, he is also working on reducing the cost of transport from Mars to the International Space Station to at least $100,000, a fee that could see more people migrate to the new planet.
19. He wants to die on Mars
In March 2013, Musk revealed that he would be part of the first trip to Mars, and that he was also willing to die there, but only if he were assured that SpaceX would go on without him. He said:
“I will go if I can be assured that SpaceX would go on without me … I’ve said I want to die on Mars, just not on impact.” (Vanity Fair)
20. He is afraid of the potential of artificial intelligence
The fear of artificial intelligence is one of the most interesting facts about Elon Musk. Despite being one of the pioneers of advanced technology in the modern world, Musk believes that artificial intelligence could become so powerful to the point of replacing humans. And when that happens, Musk speculates that human existence will be at stake.
In a previous interview with the New York Times, the Tesla and SpaceX boss revealed that tech research lab DeepMind appears to be a “top concern” in the world of artificial intelligence. The London-based lab builds AI systems that have the capacity to play games than any human. (The New York Times)
These interesting facts about Elon Musk prove that it is possible to achieve anything if you put in the effort, discipline, and dedication. There is so much to learn from the Tesla and SpaceX CEO, starting from his childhood to his days in campus, and finally, his international fame and financial success.
There is also no doubt that he has shaped the future of space travel as far as technology is concerned. As days go by, it is becoming even more apparent that humans may have to choose between living in Mars or Earth. Such possibilities were once considered unimaginable until when the likes of Elon Musk came into the picture.
3. Star Talk Radio: https://www.startalkradio.net/show/the-future-of-humanity-with-elon-musk/
4. Biography: https://www.biography.com/business-figure/elon-musk
5. Rocketeers Book: http://michaelbelfiore.com/books/rocketeers/
10. The Giving Pledge: https://givingpledge.org/
13. The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/25/style/elon-musk-maureen-dowd.html
14. Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/tech/2013/03/elon-musk-die-mars