Elon Musk is one of the most opinion-splitting people on the planet today. The South African entrepreneur is worshipped by some as a self-made billionaire who is not afraid to challenge authority. They say his wild technological fantasies are transforming the world for the better. Others see him as an iron-fisted egomaniac desperate for attention.
Whatever you think about him, there is one thing that no one can deny: Elon Musk is a strange man. As the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, he has pulled some weird stunts over the years. And his social media presence is, arguably, even odder. So, as Elon Musk vies to become the richest man alive, here are ten of his most absurd moments to date. No doubt there are more to come.
10 That Time He Got Into An Argument About Stealing A Farting Unicorn
Despite being the CEO of two major companies and one of the wealthiest people on the planet, it is nice to know that Elon Musk has enough free time to get into an argument about a farting unicorn. In 2018, Lisa Prank accused Musk of using her father’s artwork without permission. She claims he stole a unicorn design from her dad, Colorado potter Tom Edwards. One of Edwards’ mugs features a cartoon unicorn harvesting its farts to power an electric car.
Elon Musk first Tweeted about the mug in 2017. A few months down the line, he used a similar image to illustrate Tesla’s sketch pad software. Later that year, he used it again as a Christmas card design. Edwards never received a penny.
So the potter’s daughter reached out to Musk on Twitter. At first, the CEO told Prank he would “change it to something else if your Dad wants,” but said that suing would be “kinda lame.” But the pair resolved their argument a month later. The settlement was never made public but, according to Edwards, it was reached “in a way that everyone feels good about.”
9 That Time He Produced A Motivational Dance Song
In January 2020, Elon Musk released his debut single as an electronic music producer, uploading a song to SoundCloud called Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe. The CEO’s dance tune is a strange blend of European trance music and motivational mantras. “Don’t doubt your vibe because it’s true,” he repeats over a backdrop of rising synths. “Don’t doubt your vibe because it’s you.”
But the audio oddities do not stop there. If you listen past the end of Musk’s track, the SoundCloud algorithm starts playing a rap song about erectile dysfunction. For some reason, the entrepreneur’s uplifting electronica has been linked to a song by almndjoy about struggling to get it up.
Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe is not Musk’s first foray into music. In 2019, he unveiled a trap song about the shooting of Harambe the gorilla. The ape was killed by zookeepers after a young child climbed into its enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo.
8 That Time He Started A Fight Over Tequila
Alcohol has a habit of making people violent, but few people get into a fight with alcohol itself. Nonetheless, Elon Musk has declared war on tequila, tweeting, “We will fight Big Tequila!”
Why has the South African billionaire started a fight with an alcoholic beverage? In 2018, Musk tried to trademark his own brand of tequila: Teslaquila. The concept behind Teslaquila started as an April Fool’s joke. But when he tried to create the drink for real, the Tequila Regulatory Council stepped in and asked him to change the name. The word tequila has a strict definition. Only drinks made with blue agave in specific areas of Mexico are permitted to be called tequila.
Ultimately, Musk was forced to change the name to Tesla Tequila, but he did manage to bring his fictional drink to fruition. The forty percent strength drink comes in a lightning bolt-shaped bottle and sells for $250.
7 That Time His Tweets Inspired Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories
Elon Musk’s social media posts are fuelling new coronavirus conspiracy theories, with anti-lockdown campaigners praising the CEO for “being a thorn to the narrative.” In November 2020, Musk tweeted that he had taken four antigen tests in one day. Two came back positive, he told his followers, and the other two came back negative. “Something extremely bogus is going on,” he wrote. He went on to compare covid-19 to the flu and blamed false positive tests for the US’s high number of cases.
Skeptics rushed to applaud the billionaire for speaking out against a lockdown that one described as “inhumane beyond all possible reason.” Musk had previously called the lockdown “fascist” and ordered staff at Tesla to come into work at the height of the pandemic. He said that coronavirus would be over by the end of April 2020. Clearly, Musk was wrong about that one.
6 That Time He Accused A Diver Of Being A Paedophile
British diver Vernon Unsworth had just rescued thirteen people from a flooded cave when Elon Musk called him a pedophile. In summer 2018, he helped save a young soccer team and their coach from the Tham Luang caves in northern Thailand. The group had set out to explore Tham Luang, but they became trapped after heavy rains caused the caves to flood.
Musk offered to provide a submarine to help with the team’s rescue. But Unsworth dismissed it as a publicity stunt, explaining that his underwater vehicle had “absolutely no chance of working.” This angered the billionaire. Shortly after the heroic rescue mission, Elon Musk branded Unsworth “pedo guy” in a sudden outburst on Twitter. Musk provided no evidence to back up his allegation.
Unsworth took the South African to court and sued for $190m in damages. In December 2019, the jury found Musk not guilty of defamation.
5 That Time He Claimed A Monkey Could Play Video Games With Its Mind
A monkey that can play video games with its mind. It sounds like something out of a spoof version of Black Mirror. But Elon Musk claims to have created the technology for mind-controlled primate video games. He told interviewers that his company Neuralink implanted a small chip into a monkey’s skull and then wired it into its brain. The tech-savvy entrepreneur says he wants to find a way for primates to play Pong with each other using their minds. “That,” he said, “would be pretty cool.”
Neuralink specializes in brain implant technology. Elon Musk founded the company to create a computer chip for the human brain. He claims the device will help people merge themselves with artificial intelligence. It could make a person telepathic, the CEO explained, or allow their consciousness to survive after their body has died.
4 That Time He Gave His Baby A Ridiculous Name
By now, we should all be used to celebrities giving their children absurd names. Let us not forget that Jay-Z and Beyonce have a young daughter called Blue Ivy. Or that Gwyneth Paltrow named her eldest Apple. But perhaps the weirdest baby name of all belongs to the child of Elon Musk and Grimes: X Æ A-Xii.
The pair came up with the unconventional name by merging their mutual love of mystery, artificial intelligence, and 1960s CIA aircraft. According to Musk’s partner, Canadian musician Claire Boucher, the ‘X’ in her baby’s name represents the unknown variable. The ‘Æ,’ she tweeted, is the elven spelling for love and AI. As for ‘A-Xii,’ that refers to the Lockheed A-12 OXCART, a reconnaissance vehicle used by the CIA. “No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent,” Boucher explained. The ‘A’ is also said to be short for Archangel, a bass-heavy dance track by South London dubstep producer Burial.
3 That Time He Claimed To Have Created A Bionic Pig
We have already heard about Elon Musk’s bionic gamer monkey. But Neuralink claims to be altering more than just monkey brains. In August 2020, Musk unveiled Gertrude – a pig that he says has a working computer chip in its brain.
In an online demonstration, Gertrude prodded some straw with her snout, causing a graph of her brain activity to light up. Musk claimed that his Neuralink chip was relaying the impulses in Gertrude’s brain to a computer. “It’s kind of like a Fitbit in your skull with tiny wires,” he explained.
Not everyone was convinced. “Neuralink is neuroscience theatre,” one journalist proclaimed. Another called it an elaborate publicity stunt, writing that the billionaire “needs attention the way mortals need oxygen.”
2 That Time He Got Into A Surreal Rivalry With Azealia Banks
Celebrity feuds are weird enough at the best of times. But when a musician camps in an entrepreneur’s house demanding to record a song with their partner, something really strange has happened.
In 2018, Elon Musk and Grimes found themselves locked in an absurd dispute with New York rapper Azealia Banks. It all started when Banks was supposed to collaborate with Grimes, Musk’s partner, for her second album. She flew to LA to stay at the couple’s house while she and Grimes made their track together.
There was only one problem: Grimes never showed up.
Banks was left sitting around in Musk’s house for days on end, posting increasingly odd messages on social media. Banks accused the entrepreneur of inviting her for a threesome, tweeting while tripping on acid, and, if that was not weird enough, being a humanoid mutant caveman. Musk denied having ever met her. People started to speculate whether Grimes had even invited the rapper, or if she had just shown up at their house.
Their rivalry simmered down after that summer, although it flares up now and again for the strangest of reasons. Banks has enough issues of her own at the moment. In January 2020, the rapper went viral on Instagram after recording herself digging up her dead cat and cooking the carcass.
1 That Time He Possibly Committed Security Fraud For A Laugh
You know a joke has gone too far when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) takes you to court over it. In August 2018, Musk announced that he was thinking of making Tesla a private company. The CEO and his partner are regular smokers of marijuana. So, for a laugh, he set the share price at $420.
As soon as his tweet came out, stocks in the electric car company went through the roof. But the SEC said that they had not discussed any of this with the South African entrepreneur, and they sued him for fraud.
Musk said he calculated the price per share himself at $419. But the CEO had recently learned about the connotations of the number 420 in drug culture. So he decided to round the price up to impress his partner. This Musk later admitted, “is not a great reason to pick a price.”