25 facts about Elon Musk that you probably never knew

Elon Musk, the famous CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is not the most private about his life, but there is still a lot that many don’t know about the space-obsessed billionaire. After the innovator made history with his company SpaceX and right before he celebrates his 49th birthday later this month, take a look at 25 facts about the Silicon Valley mogul.

1. Musk was born in South Africa and moved to Canada at age 17

Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa to Errol and Maye Musk where he lived until he moved to Canada at age 17. He holds South African, Canadian, and U.S. citizenship. As of 2020, he lives in Los Angeles, California.

2. Musk has described his estranged father Errol as “evil.”

Errol Musk was once tried and acquitted of manslaughter. Errol shot and killed three men that attempted to break into his Johannesburg home.

In 2017, Errol had a son with his stepdaughter Jana Bezuidenhout, who is 40 years younger than him. That’s right, stepdaughter. Errol got together with Jana  after divorcing her mother Heidi.

3. His mom, Maye Musk, is a model.

Maye has recently revived her modeling career. She is a registered dietician and released a book, A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success, in 2019.

4. As of April 2020, Musk had a net worth of $24.6 billion. 

Musk became a millionaire in 1999 at age 27 when he sold Zip2 (his web-software company) for over $340 million. With a 7% share of the company, Musk received $22 million for the deal.

He reached billionaire-status in 2012 at age 40, debuting on Forbes Billionaires List with a net worth of $2 billion.

5. He was so quiet as a child that his parents thought he was deaf. 

It’s been reported that Musk read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica by age nine. Musk taught himself to write computer code at the age of 12 and created a video game called Blastar, which he ended up selling for $500 to PC and Office Technology magazine.

6. Musk was bullied as a kid.

Musk was the youngest and smallest boy in his class, and he was often bullied. He ended up in the hospital once after a group of boys pushed him down a flight of stairs and said he was “almost beaten to death” on one occasion.

As a result, he learned karate, judo and wrestling at age 15.

7. Musk is the oldest of three children.

Kimbal Musk, his younger brother, owns the Kitchen Restaurant Group. Tosca Musk, his younger sister, is a filmmaker.

8. Musk stands at 6’2” tall, and his IQ is estimated to be 155. 

9. If Tesla couldn’t secure the rights for the name, Musk would have called the company “Faraday.”

Musk has claimed that he would have named the company Faraday if they couldn’t secure the rights to Tesla. This name is after British scientist Michael Faraday, who was born in what is now Elephant and Castle in 1791.

10. Musk is the “real-life Tony Stark.”

While Stan Lee based the Tony Stark character on Howard Hughes, Robert Downey Jr, the actor who portrayed Tony Stark in the Marvel movies, famously based his portrayal of Iron Man on Musk.

11. Musk has made appearances in move and television shows.

Speaking of Tony Stark, Musk made a cameo appearance in Iron Man 2. He has also appeared as himself in shows such as The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory and South Park.

12. Musk has founded eight companies to date. 

Musk founded Zip2, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, Hyperloop, OpenAI, Neuralink, and The Boring Company. View his entire career path here.

13. Musk avoided mandatory service in the South African military by enrolling in school in Canada.

Musk enrolled in Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, but didn’t finish his degree there. Instead, he left in 1992 to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 1996 he received an economics degree from the Wharton School and a physics degree from the College of Arts and Sciences.

14. Musk dropped out from two different schools.

As mentioned, Musk left Queen’s University to study at the University of Pennsylvania. After graduating from UPenn, he went to Stanford University in California to get his Ph.D. in energy physics but dropped out after two days to launch Zip2 Corporation.

15. Musk agreed to serve on two business councils for Donald Trump in 2017.

Musk agreed to serve on Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative and the Strategic and Policy Forum, but resigned from both positions in protest of the president withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris agreement on climate change.

“[I] Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,” Musk wrote on Twitter.

16. Musk’s annual salary from Tesla is $1.

While Musk earns only $1 per year from Tesla, he wasn’t always able to afford a salary cut. When he was in college he apparently lived on $1 a day by buying hot dogs and oranges in bulk.

17. Musk’s first child died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Musk and his first wife, sci-fi writer Justine Wilson, got married in 2000. In 2002, their first son, Nevada, died at 10 weeks old from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

18. Musk has six children, all of whom are boys.

Musk has six children, all of whom are boys. Musk’s first wife Justine Wilson gave birth to a set of twins in 2004 (Griffin and Xavier) and a set of triplets (Damian, Saxon and Kai) in 2006. Musk and Wilson share custody of their five sons, who were all born through In Vitro Fertilization.

Musk’s first son (Nevada Alexander Musk) was born in 2002, but died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at 10-weeks-old.

Musk began dating Canadian singer Claire Elise Boucher, known as Grimes, in May 2018. Two years later, Grimes gave birth to Musk’s sixth son, X Æ A-12 Musk.

19. Musk and his girlfriend Grimes changed their baby’s name less than a month after he was born.

Musk and Grimes named their baby boy X Æ A-12 when he was born in May, but changed it to X Æ A-Xii later that month. “Roman numerals. Looks better tbh,” Grimes wrote on Instagram. Apparently the couple refers to him as “Little X.”

20. In 2018, Musk sent a Tesla sportscar into space. 

Musk sent his own Tesla sportscar as the payload for the launch of his Falcon Heavy rocket. You can track the car, which is in orbit around the sun, on whereisroadster.com.

21. Musk announced that Tesla’s valuation was “too high.”

“Tesla stock price is too high imo,” the Tesla CEO tweeted on May 1, causing the company’s valuation to drop $15 billion, according to MarketWatch.

22. Musk drove his first car until one of its wheels fell off.

The first car that Musk ever owned was a BMW 320I. He bought the car for $1,400 in 1994 and drove it for two years until one of its wheels fell off.

23. Musk founded a company after getting sick of dealing with Los Angeles traffic.

The Boring Company was born from a frustrating day sitting in traffic. In December 2016, Musk tweeted “[I] am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging …” By January 2017, conversation with regulatory bodies was underway.

The company website explains that to reduce gridlock, traffic must either go up or down. Instead of investing in flying cars, The Boring Company believes that the answer lies in the creation of tunnels. Unfortunately, tunnels are expensive and difficult to create. The Boring Company is attempting to change the tunnel with innovative technology and smarter engineering.

24. Musk made history with SpaceX.

On May 30, SpaceX launched The Crew Dragon, marking the first time ever that astronauts had traveled to orbit in a spacecraft that was built and operated by a private company.

25. He is on Forbes’ list of Most Powerful People.

Musk currently holds the 25th spot on Forbes’ list of the Most Powerful People in the world.