If you know anything about Elon Musk, you know that he likes to talk big. And unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably been unable to avoid publicity about Elon Musk talking big.
There are a lot of parts and pieces when it comes to the so-called “Musk Mystique” – but one of the foundational elements is that Elon Musk is a self-made man, despite the fact that his family was wealthy when he was young.
Elon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971, and has three siblings, including a brother and sister who were twins. One of his many claims to fame was that his father Errol taught him to program an Atari computer when he was just eight years old, but shortly after his parents got divorced.
His father once claimed in an interview with Business Insider that “we had so much money we couldn’t even close our safe”. The safe must have been filled with something other than money, although it does help explain Elon’s tendencies toward big talk. Errol also claimed to own an emerald mine in Zambia which he described as an “under the table” operation.
The truth of the matter is that Musk’s father was abusive, and what helped Elon rise above all that was his passion for programming.
Big talk aside, some of Musk’s pre-wealth accomplishments are genuinely impressive. When he flew the family coop and moved to North America, he got two degrees from Penn, one in economics, the other in physics.
The Path to Fame and Fortune
Once he graduated, Musk started a software company called Zip2, and while the online version of the old Yellow Pages was clunky, it was a huge success.
He sold Zip2 and made $22 million, then started X.com, which was intended to upend the world of online banking. What it did mostly was almost go belly-up, but the software the company was based on was solid enough to help create PayPal, which is now a universal part of our financial system.
It was the combination of Tesla and SpaceX that really thrust Musk into the public eye, though. The advanced technology behind both companies elevated Musk from the status of just another rich guy to a techie savant who could pontificate about the future of humankind and actually be taken seriously, especially when his other companies have names like OpenAI and Neuralink (we’ll give him a pass on the absurdly-named The Boring Company).
Given the combination of his large ego and his intense, relentless nature, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Elon Musk has been married twice. In fact, one of his wives, Talulah Riley, went into space with him, and they got along well enough to share custody of their five young sons.
Each wife lasted about six years with Elon, so while it may be true that the third time’s the charm, if you run into a prop bet that pits the longevity of Musk’s various companies versus the staying power of wife #3, bet heavily on the companies. They’re a much better investment.