Celebs Who Can't Stand Elon Musk

To some, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk seems like a real-life Tony Stark — a tech genius born to make the world a better place. In less than 20 years, Musk has firmly cemented his place in the pantheon of tech giants before him, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos. However, there's something that sets Musk apart. 

"Elon Musk is trying to invent a future, not by providing the next app," astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once told CNBC's Make It. "What Elon Musk is doing is not simply giving us the next app that will be awesome on our smartphone. No, he is thinking about society, culture, how we interact, what forces need to be in play to take civilization into the next century."

Whether or not that's true is up for debate, but what's not up for debate is that Elon Musk really likes to tell anyone who will listen how great he is. And he's never met a Twitter feud he didn't like. Naturally, his in-your-face approach has earned him his share of enemies. Here are a few.

George Clooney had enough of his Tesla

During a 2013 interview with Esquire, George Clooney didn't have a glowing review for the electric vehicle that was developed, in part, by Elon Musk. "I had a Tesla. I was one of the first cats with a Tesla. I think I was, like, number five on the list," Clooney told the publication when the writer asked why he was driving a Lexus instead of Hollywood's favorite new ride. "But I'm telling you, I've been on the side of the road a while in that thing. And I said to them, 'Look, guys, why am I always stuck on the side of the f***ing road? Make it work, one way or another.'"

To be fair to Elon Musk, it probably wouldn't feel all that great to have an A-list celebrity trash your product in an internationally published magazine for the whole world to see, but there were two ways Musk could have responded to this. He chose the "not good" option. He tweeted, "In other news, George Clooney reports that his iPhone 1 had a bug back in '07." Gotta work on those customer service skills, Elon!

Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk probably aren't Facebook friends

Elon Musk and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg don't even try to hide their disdain for one another. According to VICE, in 2016 when Zuckerberg's $200 million satellite exploded in a pre-launch "static fire test" accident while attached to one of Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, SpaceX released a statement blaming the explosion on "an anomaly" on the launchpad. 

Zuckerberg wasn't going to allow that to be the official narrative. "I'm deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX's launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent," he wrote in a Facebook post. Ouch. Two years later, when a Twitter user brought up the accident, Musk responded, "Yeah, my fault for being an idiot. We did give them a free launch to make up for it and I think they had some insurance."

The two tech giants also publicly feuded over the future of artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg is for it, Musk is vehemently against it, calling the technology "far more dangerous than nukes" (via CNBC). In a Facebook livestream, Zuckerberg called Musk's warning about A.I. as "pretty irresponsible, and Musk responded to the comments in true Musk form: on Twitter. "I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited," he tweeted.

Sarah Palin called Tesla 'a loser'

Say what you will about Sarah Palin, but she has opinions and wants you to know them. In a lengthy 2013 Facebook post, the former Alaska governor and republican vice-presidential candidate called Tesla a "loser," and accused Musk's signature car of turning into "a brick" when the battery runs out. 

The crux of her argument was that electric car companies like Tesla and Fisker allegedly received a substantial amount of government funding in the early stages of development, then laid off most of their workforce to remain profitable. "Americans really need to get outraged by these wasteful ventures. As we've seen time and time again, We the People are always stuck subsidizing the left's 'losers,'" she wrote.

Elon Musk being Elon Musk, responding in the most Elon Musk way. "Sarah Palin calls Tesla a loser. Am deeply wounded," he tweeted. You can almost see the sarcasm dripping off the words as you read them. He also noted that "bricking" — when the car's lithium-ion battery pack is unplugged for too long and cannot be revived — is covered under warranty.

Jeremy Clarkson disputes a Tesla lawsuit

According to Wired, Elon Musk's company, Tesla Motors, filed a libel lawsuit in 2011 against the BBC over a 2008 episode of the network's UK automotive-enthusiast show Top Gear. Tesla claimed the show, which was hosted at the time by Jeremy Clarkson, "faked a scene in which one Roadster ran out of electricity and another experienced brake failure." Five years later, Musk appeared on the BBC Newsnight and tossed Clarkson a few platitudes while also declaring, "Clarkson's show is much more about entertainment than it is about truth." Shots fired.

Clarkson also hasn't held back his feelings regarding the tech entrepreneur. "He sued me and lost, he appealed and lost. You go online and you read that we 'made it up,' that we 'faked it'...We didn't," Clarkson told the Daily Beast in 2017, adding, "You see, if anybody is going to get sued, I mean you can't say that sort of thing. I could say all sorts of things about Musk but I won't." He added, "Musk doesn't like losing. Unfortunately, he did twice...He's just got sour grapes." Shots returned.

Clarkson, who at that point was hosting The Grand Tour, then added more fuel to the feud. "I actually reviewed the new Tesla in the new show and in many ways, it's tremendous," Clarkson said, adding, "I've got no ax to grind. He's the only one who ever behaved in such a petulant way—most industry bosses are a lot more grown-up." 

Grimes' mother is over Elon Musk tweeting

On May 4, 2020, Elon Musk welcomed a son, X AE A-Xii Musk, with his partner, Grimes. You'd think Musk would be busy spending quality time with his newborn child, but the SpaceX founder has also been a constant presence on Twitter, complaining about everything from COVID-19's effect on his business to cancel culture

However, a tweet he sent thirteen days after his child was born was the last straw for Grimes' mother, Sandy Garossino. The tweet? "Take the red pill." While most know this line from The Matrix, this phrase is now more associated with men's rights activist groups, and is used to define a person's shift to more right-wing ideology (via E! News). This did not sit well with Garossino. And no, Grimes' mom is not technically a celebrity, but we felt this was too good to pass up.

In a now-deleted tweet, Garossino made her thoughts known. "If your partner went through a challenging pregnancy and childbirth in the last two weeks... And you were over 16 years old, would you be blaring MRA bulls**t on Twitter right now?" she wrote. Okay, then! And according to Metro, she liked a tweet that read: "Elon Musk's Twitter presence in the last few months feels very Kanye 2018." We assume Musk won't be home when grandma comes to visit.

Jeff Bezos went from friend to foe

According to Business Insider, Elon Musk and fellow space pioneer Jeff Bezos had dinner once in 2004 to exchange ideas as friendly rivals. But as Musk's SpaceX and Bezos' Blue Origin began their races into space, the rivalry stopped being polite and started getting real.

One of their first public dustups happened in 2013 when NASA, who stopped using their launch pads two years prior, offered up their "historic launch complex 39A" for private use. Naturally, the two competitors vied for the rights to use it first. The fight led Bezos to file a complaint with the U.S. government's General Accountability Office to challenge Musk that he ultimately lost. Musk then signed a 20-year lease for the exclusive rights to the famous site, but the feud didn't end there. Bezos got his revenge six years later.

To head Amazon's Project Kuiper, the initiative to use low Earth orbit satellites "to provide high-speed internet to anywhere in the world," Bezos hired Rajeev Badyal — the former SpaceX vice president of satellites who Musk fired (via CNBC). Hiring a disgruntled employee from your chief rival? That's a bold flex, Jeff. In 2015, when Bezos announced his plans to use "the rarest of beasts" (a used rocket) to launch the 3,000+ satellites, Musk did what he does best — trolled him on Twitter. "Not quite 'rarest,' he tweeted. "SpaceX Grasshopper rocket did 6 suborbital flights 3 years ago & is still around." The cold war continues.

Azealia Banks' wild ride at Elon Musk's mansion

Are you sitting down for this? If not, grab a chair. No list like this is complete without controversy magnet Azealia Banks, and wow, does her Elon Musk story deliver. According to a series of Instagram stories in 2018 (via The Cut), Banks claimed that Grimes invited her over to Musk's Los Angeles mansion to work on new music. But instead of working on new tracks, Banks said she spent the weekend in the mansion alone, while Grimes was comforting Musk after he announced on Twitter that he was "taking Tesla private at $420 [per share]. Funding secured."

Turns out the funding wasn't secured and Musk was ordered to pay $20 million by the SEC. Banks alleged Musk sent that fateful tweet "while tripping on acid," and described her weekend at the house as an "episode of Get Out." She also called Musk a "beta male" who "took steroids and got hair plugs to convince himself he was an alpha." Yikes. 

According to Gizmodo, Musk claimed he never met Banks and a Tesla spokesperson called Banks' story "complete nonsense." Banks then pushed back. "I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his a** after that tweet," she told Business Insider, adding, "I could run Tesla better than he does." She continued, "It's honestly stupid of them to think another performative 'angry/crazy black girl hit piece' will do anything to bring me down."

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez didn't hold back

In May 2020, Tesla filed suit against California's Alameda County after the automaker's Fremont plant was ordered to shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Elon Musk took things a bit further by then threatening to pull the company out of the state entirely (via NBC News). This did not sit well with San Diego's Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who bluntly shot back on Twitter, "F**k Elon Musk."

While that seemed definitive, Gonzalez wasn't done, tweeting, "California has highly subsidized a company that has always disregarded worker safety & well-being, has engaged in union-busting & bullies public servants. I probably could've expressed my frustration in a less aggressive way. Of course, no one would've cared if I tweeted that." Musk's response? "Message received," he tweeted.

The story made national news, which led CNN to invite Gonzalez on to discuss her position further. Spoiler: She didn't back down. "For a company that has received billions of dollars — that's with a 'B,' billions of dollars — of taxpayer subsidies to partner with our state to throw this kind of temper tantrum... it's just unacceptable at some point," she said. "I think we should all be outraged that a billionaire who has gotten so much from their partnership in California but continues to put workers in unsafe positions, continues to union bust, continues to wave his middle finger at California." We assume Gonzalez won't get a discount on a Tesla any time soon.

Ken Jennings tangoed with Elon Musk on his favorite turf

Ken Jennings, the 74-time Jeopardy! champion also jumped into the Twitter fray to criticize Elon Musk on his decision to reopen his Tesla facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Posting a screenshot of Musk's tweet that read, "Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me," Jennings offered up this quip: "Can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Elon Musk, but he is absolutely correct: please arrest Elon Musk." Not very subtle.

And of course, the terminally online Musk had a reply. "All other car companies are allowed to manufacture *except* Tesla, you knucklehead. No wonder you got crushed by a computer the size of a pizza box," the tech entrepreneur tweeted. In his jab back at Jennings, Musk was referring to Jennings' 2011 performance in Jeopardy!'s "Man vs. Machine" tournament, where he and another returning show champion were defeated by Watson, the famous IBM supercomputer.

Twitter feuds? Let's make it a true Daily Double, Alex.