Things You Didn't Know About Elon Musk

Elon Musk is an engineer, inventor, CEO, investor, and billionaire. But there's more to Musk than meets the eye, and to truly understand this self-made South African native, it's necessary to learn a few fun facts. Musk is a dreamer with a vision; he co-founded PayPal and Tesla. But his ultimate goal is space exploration, and he believes he can help colonize Mars. Sound like science fiction? Check out these things you might not have known about Musk, and perhaps his past achievements will give insight into his visions for the future.

Musk was born in South Africa, but moved to Canada on his own while still a teenager. He worked odd jobs before landing at Queen’s University in Ontario. By the age of 28, he was a multimillionaire. As of 2019, Musk had a net worth of $20.6 billion, according to Forbes.

But the real-life inspiration for Tony Stark is in the game for more than just money and power. His pro-environmental ambition is to create an accessible electric car so that society is no longer oil dependent. Musk's biography paints a picture of a person with unbelievable drive and perhaps the intelligence to colonize the Red Planet in this lifetime. A man like that will inspire admiration, like being named TIME's 2021 Person of the Year, but also disdain, like landing himself at the top of the celebrities you're sick of in 2022 list.

  • He Dropped His Second Song, 'Don't Doubt ur Vibe,' In 2020

    On January 30, 2020, Elon Musk released his second jam on SoundCloud, "Don't Doubt ur Vibe." The autotuned EDM number, written and performed by Musk, could be interpreted as an ode to self-actualization. Given that the track was released with an image of the Tesla Cybertruck superimposed on Mars, "Vibe" could be an expression of the mogul's hopes and dreams for the new decade. 

    Or perhaps Emo G just wanted to drop a sick beat. The world may never know.

  • Musk Was The Inspiration For Iron Man

    Musk Was The Inspiration For Iron Man
    Photo: CC by 2.0

    Iron Man director Jon Favreau needed to make the Tony Stark side of superhero Iron Man seem real. He looked to Elon Musk, a rocket scientist and green energy pioneer, for inspiration. Favreau wrote of the billionaire, "Elon Musk makes no sense - and that's the reason I know him. When I was trying to bring the character of genius billionaire Tony Stark to the big screen in Iron Man, I had no idea how to make him seem real. Robert Downey Jr. said, 'We need to sit down with Elon Musk.'"

    "Downey was right," Favreau concluded. "Elon is a paragon of enthusiasm, good humor and curiosity - a Renaissance man in an era that needs them."

    Musk and Iron Man have more in common than personality. In July 2019, Musk spoke publicly about what he envisions for his latest startup venture, Neuralink. Neuralink "aims to build a scalable implant to connect human brains with computers," according to Forbes magazine. The chip is a miniature brain implant that links to people's devices, allowing them to control things like their cellphones with just their minds, much the same way Tony Stark communicates with his personal AI, Jarvis. 

  • Musk Released A Rap Song Called 'RIP Harambe' On Soundcloud

    In 2019 Musk released the rap song "RIP Harambe" on the music streaming service Soundcloud under his fictional record company, Emo G - or "Emoji." The song features auto-tune and an outdated meme. 

    Harambe became a national sensation after he was put down in 2016 when a child fell into his barricade at the Cincinnati Zoo. In memoriam, three years later, Musk sings

    "RIP Harambe/Sipping on some Bombay/We on our way to heaven/Amen, Amen. RIP Harambe/Smoking on some strong/In the gorilla zoo/And we thinking about you."

  • He Used To Live On A Dollar A Day

    He Used To Live On A Dollar A Day
    Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    After Musk's parents divorced when he was 8 years old, he lived with his mother, Maye, in various cities throughout South Africa. He dreamed of moving to the United States, but wound up immigrating to Canada alone at 17 years old.

    The future billionaire stayed with family members and lived on just $1 a day. He saved money by subsisting primarily on oranges and hot dogs.

  • Musk Wrote And Sold Code For A Video Game At Just 12 Years Old

    Musk Wrote And Sold Code For A Video Game At Just 12 Years Old
    Video: YouTube

    Before Musk even became a teenager, he wrote code for a space-based video game called "Blastar." He was just 12 years old at the time and still living in South Africa. The Tesla CEO pocketed a few hundred dollars by selling the code to a computer magazine. His code was not used in the game, but Musk later published it in his biography.

    From there, Google software engineer Tomas Lloret created a version of the game available to play online.

  • Musk Took An Extremely Dangerous Job At 18 Years Old

    Musk Took An Extremely Dangerous Job At 18 Years Old
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    When Musk moved to Canada as a teenager, he didn't have a place to stay or much money in his pocket. He lived at a second cousin's house in a small town called Swift Current. He worked several odd jobs upon his arrival; Musk was a farm hand and a logger, but he ideally wanted a job that would earn him more money.

    An unemployment officer guided him to a job cleaning the boiler room of a lumber mill for $18 an hour. Musk took the gig. However, there was a reason why it paid so well. In fact, most people quit after just one week. Musk described demands of the position:

    You have to put on this hazmat suit and then shimmy through this little tunnel that you can barely fit in. Then, you have a shovel and you take the sand and goop and other residue, which is still steaming hot, and you have to shovel it through the same hole you came through. There is no escape. Someone else on the other side has to shovel it into a wheelbarrow. If you stay in there for more than 30 minutes, you get too hot and die.