This man destroyed the idea that an electric car has to either be ugly or look like an expensive golf cart. He’s trying to make commercial space flight possible, high-speed terrestrial travel possible, and he also founded this teenie tiny company called PayPal. He’s considered one of the sexiest billionaires in the world, if you still don’t feel inadequate. Elon Musk is an inventor, investor and entrepreneur extraordinaire, but if you think that he’s leading an easygoing life, you’d be grossly mistaken. Here are a few facts you probably didn’t about Elon Musk.
1. He was hospitalized as a kid
While Elon Musk was growing up in South Africa, he was heavily bullied and on one occasion was actually hospitalized when he was thrown down a flight of stairs, and then beaten until he blacked out. He was not only the smallest but also the brightest student at his school which made him a target for bullying.
2. He lost a child
Even the brightest, most gifted and accomplished individuals are not immune from tragedy. This happened during a period when Elon and Justine (his first wife) were riding a wave of success, wealth and privilege as a result of Elon’s first online venture, Zip2, which was sold for millions of dollars. One day, their first son Nevada Alexander Musk was put down for a nap, which he would never wake up from. At 10 weeks old, Nevada fell unconscious and was then kept on life support for three days until the distraught couple made the difficult decision to take him off it.
3. He has five children
After the couple lost their first child, they decided to try again and, through IVF, they had five more children (twins and triplets). Unfortunately, due to Elon’s professional aspirations and obligations, the marriage dissolved shortly after in a very public divorce.
4. He knows hard work
At age 15, he decided to travel through the States and then, instead of returning to his native South Africa, decided to get a Canadian Passport and work his way into Queen’s University in Ontario. With a working class determination to succeed, he worked as a farm hand, a vegetable harvester, and even donned a heavy, hot hazmat suit to clean out creosol goop out of a lumber yard’s boiler. Finally, he made it into Queen’s University.
5. He lived like a penniless college student
During college, and due to his restricted finances, he attempted to live on less than $1 a day. As Musk himself puts it: without getting scurvy. He lived frugally due to necessity which rewarded him with a degree in Economics and Physics from the University of Pennsylvania after transferring from Queen’s University.
6. Hippies inspired the company that seeks worldwide energy domination
SolarCity, another one of Musk’s brain-children, might have been inspired by the heady Burning Man festival which is described as an experiment in art, technology and community. Its adherents are generally members of the counterculture, avid environmentalists, and very avant-garde. Some people even speculate that his idea for Tesla (the world’s first “cool” electric vehicle) might have been a child of his Burning Man visitations.
7. He believes that A.I. will destroy humanity
Not only that but he’s engaged in the fight against the machines with his donation of $10 million to the Future of Life Institute which will create a grant that will work on making sure machines don’t start murdering us with lasers (or any other implements such as kitchen pots, wooden spoons, weed whackers or electrified metal tendrils). He believes that unregulated A.I. technology could be a huge threat to humanity as, once self-aware, it will probably attempt to terminate anything that is deemed a threat to its survival (which is pretty much us humans).
8. He inspired Jon Favreau’s Tony Stark
I know you’re probably unfamiliar with Jon Favreau’s name, but I’m sure you’ve seen him a bunch of his movies, including Iron Man in which he played Hogan. He’s the guy that carried the Iron Man suit in the third movie. When he was working on the first movie, though, he couldn’t decide how to approach portraying the playboy, billionaire tech savant. Then Robert Downey, Jr. (the one and only on-screen Tony Stark we’ll ever truly love) told Favreau he should meet Elon Musk, and the director found his basis for the character every man, woman and child has fallen in love with, and that’s not even a hyperbole.
9. He only makes a $1 a year
Well, as the CEO of Tesla, that is. He of course owns bucket-loads of stock in Tesla and the other companies he has founded and, according to Forbes, has a real-time net worth of $13.6 billion (that’s billion dollars, so it’s not like he’s stealing ketchup packets from restaurants – unlike other filthy rich billionaires. I’m looking at you, founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad).
10. He and his brother opened their own arcade as kids
Well, I’m not being completely honest here. The two Musk brothers Kimbal and Elon got a lease, found suppliers and were ready to open an arcade close to their school. Their parents refused to sign a permit from the city, though, and the idea was ultimately shut down. Instead, he chose to create his own game on one of the earliest consumer computers and sold it to a tech magazine for $500. The game is named Blastar and you can play it online. You might want to turn down your speakers, as it’s really loud. You’ve been warned.
11. He’s making a submarine car out of James Bond’s submarine car
Any self-respecting billionaire can build a transforming submarine car, but not everyone can build a submarine car out of a movie submarine car. Elon Musk owns the Lotus Esprit S1 that was featured in The Spy Who Loved Me. Something you probably don’t know is that Wet Nellie, as it’s also known, is actually a so-called “wet submarine” specifically built by Perry Oceanic Inc. for the film at a cost of $100.000 in 1977. A wet submarine means that you must wear scuba gear to breathe when in the vehicle.
This is Elon Musk’s TED Talk, if you would like a bit more insight into this innovative man’s mind.
Do you have anything else to add to the story of the Iron Man, submarine car and private plane-owning, space traveling billionaire Elon Musk? Let me know in the comments section below.