The Shady Side Of Elon Musk

The following article includes mentions of mental health struggles and allegations of workplace sexual harassment, child sex abuse, racism, antisemitism, transphobia, and sexism.

The old adage says, "Put your money where your mouth is." Well, when it comes to Elon Musk, even his several hundred billion dollars cannot stifle his gift of gab. From his modestly well-off beginnings in South Africa, Musk went on to sow the seeds of his riches in the U.S. and was soon hailed the wealthiest person in the world in 2021. But what do you do when you have so much money you could probably end world hunger? Instead of breaking bread, Musk's starting beef. 

The Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder truly knows what not to say — and when to say it. Having built a trillion-dollar empire, he has allegedly engaged in some very shady practices along the way. After all, this is a man whose own brother described him as "a savant when it comes to business, but his gift is not empathy with people," per Time. But Musk's sketchy behavior extends far beyond the business world, having irked everyone from the president to the mother of his child.

Time's Person of the Year for 2021, the billionaire businessman often comes across as a naughty schoolboy who thinks he can get away with saying and doing almost anything. And, judging by his ever-burgeoning bank balance, it seems he can, as — in this world — money is everything. From unhinged posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, to allegedly ignoring the mistreatment of his employees, get ready for the shady side of Elon Musk.

Elon Musk called a man who rescued schoolboys from a cave a 'pedo'

When a group of schoolchildren got trapped in a cave in Thailand for 17 days in 2018, the rescue effort was looking increasingly bleak, especially as the cave became flooded. However, thanks to a dedicated team of divers, the boys were rescued. Among those involved in the rescue effort was British diver Vern Unsworth, who was swiftly hailed a hero by everyone. Well, everyone, that is, except Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO had a very different take on Unsworth's involvement in the endeavor.

Musk claimed in since-deleted tweets that it was "sus" that Unsworth was a British expat living in Thailand, before calling him "pedo guy" in a separate X post. In an email to BuzzFeed News, he alleged that Unsworth, whom he referred to as a "child rapist," moved to Thailand to procure a 12-year-old child bride — claims the diver vehemently denied. The entirely baseless attack appeared to stem from Unsworth branding Musk's own attempts to rescue the boys — via the creation of a mini submarine — a "PR stunt," with the diver telling CNN that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts."

Accordingly, Unsworth launched a defamation suit against Musk, who later said that he only meant to call him a "creepy old man," as opposed to a pedophile, per the AP. Musk ended up victorious in the legal dispute, and some interpreted the decision as the court prioritizing the wealthy over the truth.  

His ex-wife Justine Musk claimed he mistreated her

Before Grimes — and Talulah Riley — there was Justine Musk (née Wilson), to whom Elon Musk was married from 2000 to 2008. In an essay for Marie Claire, Justine divulged some rather unpleasant details about her ex-husband. She alleged, among other things, that Elon forced her to dye her dark hair blonde and treated her like an employee. "If you were my employee," he supposedly told his then-wife, "I would fire you."

Claiming that she was a mere "starter wife" for Elon, Justine wrote that the billionaire initially appeared sweet and charming when he courted her. However, it didn't take too long for the tide to turn. She said he sneakily got her to sign what he called a "financial agreement" that was, in actuality, a postnuptial agreement. "There were warning signs. ... Elon told me, 'I am the alpha in this relationship,'" she wrote. "I shrugged it off, just as I would later shrug off signing the postnuptial agreement, but as time went on, I learned that he was serious."

A lengthy divorce followed, as Justine fought to regain the wealth she had effectively signed away via the post-nup. Speaking with CNBC (via HuffPost), she explained that when she signed the document, "I trusted that he wouldn't do anything that would put me in harm's way." In an article for Business Insider, Elon refuted his ex-wife's claims and said that he pays her $20,000 a month for spending, outside of spousal support.

Elon Musk's comments were perceived as transphobic

Elon Musk shelled out one of his characteristically pithy tweets in 2020 when he wrote, "Pronouns suck." His then-girlfriend, Grimes, called him out in an impassioned — and since deleted — post on X, accusing him of spreading hate speech. "I love you but please turn off ur phone or give me a dall [sic]," the musician urged. "I cannot support hate. Please stop this. I know this isn't your heart."

Subsequently, some critics accused him of both overt transphobia and misogyny. As Observer argued, the tweets "were transphobic, and in context seem like they were designed specifically to target and humiliate his partner in a massive public forum," pointing out that Grimes herself identifies as gender neutral (though generally opts for she/her pronouns).

Despite the backlash, Musk went on to make further disparaging remarks about pronouns later that year, tweeting in December, "when you put he/him in ur bio," followed by a cartoon of a soldier rubbing blood on his face and wearing a hat that reads "I love to oppress." Subsequently, Clean Technica critiqued the tweet, arguing that Musk rallying against pronouns was a covert means of implying "that transgender people don't deserve our support, and that people who support them are to be looked down on." In response, Musk claimed on X that he does indeed support the transgender community, but deems pronouns "an esthetic nightmare," a misguided stance that, again, saw him face swift censure.

He's made anti-vax comments and denied the severity of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the lives of millions around the world, yet Elon Musk has repeatedly downplayed its severity. On the platform X, he has expressed skepticism about the deadly virus since the early days of the pandemic, claiming in November 2020, "Something extremely bogus is going on." He previously tweeted that March that "the coronavirus panic is dumb," and also propagated conspiracy theories that doctors were wrongly attributing COVID-19 as patients' cause of death to get more government funding, a conspiracy that has been thoroughly debunked by leading scientists, per Scientific American.

During his appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience," Musk doubled down on his views, purporting that the COVID-19 death rate was far lower than the World Health Organization was reporting. He also dismissed deaths as being limited to those with "existing conditions." The entrepreneur claimed that "people really wanted a panic" and embraced the notion that nationwide lockdowns were an "infringement of our civil liberties."

In an interview with The New York Times, he echoed this sentiment, rallying against lockdowns and asserting that only clinically vulnerable people should quarantine "until the storm passes." When Musk was told that such measures would lead to many avoidable deaths, he curtly replied, "Everybody dies." In addition to his skepticism regarding the virus, he has espoused anti-vax sentiments, claiming that he would refuse to receive a coronavirus vaccine. However, he has since changed his stance and revealed that both he and his family are vaccinated.

His Neuralink firm has been accused of animal abuse

In 2016, Elon Musk founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing devices that can connect to the human brain. Much of Neuralink's work is based around helping people who have had head injuries by implanting devices into the brain, per the Los Angeles Times. However, the firm's work hasn't always been positive: It has faced a slew of animal abuse allegations. In 2020, PETA launched a scathing attack on Musk for his use of pigs in experiments. The organization's president, Ingrid Newkirk, suggested that Musk "behave like a pioneer and implant the Neuralink chip in his own brain rather than exploiting smart, sensitive pigs."

Per BBC News, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a complaint against the firm in 2022, alleging that the macaque monkeys used in Neuralink research were subjected to "invasive and deadly brain experiments" and that "most of the animals had portions of their skulls removed to implant electrodes in their brains." Moreover, the animal rights group alleged that several monkeys were euthanized for the experiments. The firm denied these accusations, though they did admit some monkeys were euthanized, supposedly due to health issues or "as part of a previous unrelated research study," and that one monkey in particular was euthanized after suffering complications from the use of BioGlue. 

Musk has also personally faced animal cruelty accusations. In 2021, he was criticized for sending thousands of baby squids and tardigrades into space for experiments.

Elon Musk's history of shading his competitors

Elon Musk has a long history of trolling his competitors, creating beef with some of the world's most successful tech companies and entrepreneurs. He went after Apple when he spoke with German publication Handelsblatt (via Business Insider): "They have hired people we've fired. We always jokingly call Apple the 'Tesla Graveyard.'" He also claimed the company doesn't have the skills to manufacture cars. When promoting the Tesla Cyberwhistle on X, he again managed to throw in a smattering of shade against the Silicon Valley company in an otherwise promotional post. "Don't waste your money on that silly Apple Cloth, buy our whistle instead!" he wrote.

He has also long had beef with fellow billionaire Bill Gates. When Gates revealed that he wasn't a fan of Tesla, Musk tweeted that he found Gates to be "underwhelming" company. The bad blood reached its pinnacle during the coronavirus pandemic, when Musk attacked Gates' vaccine initiatives. In a since-deleted tweet, Musk posted an anti-vax cartoon, entitled "The Plannedemic," which suggested that Gates was somehow responsible for orchestrating mass hysteria before planning a "mandatory vaccine rollout."

When Musk usurped Jeff Bezos' spot as the world's richest man in 2021, he joked that he'd be sending the Amazon founder a silver medal, per Forbes. Speaking with the Financial Times, he threw further shade, suggesting that Bezos "should spend more time at Blue Origin and less time in the hot tub."

He corrected Grimes on the meaning of her own baby's name

Grimes and Elon Musk could potentially be the weirdest celeb couple ever (though they do have many competitors). Ever since the pair first hooked up in 2018, they've been a seemingly endless controversy magnet, from Grimes defending Musk's alleged union-busting to their uniquely named children. Speaking of the pair's offspring, Musk showed more than a hint of shade when he corrected Grimes on the meaning of her own child's name.

In their characteristically quirky, sci-fi-tinged fashion, the then-couple named their eldest son, born in 2020, X Æ A-Xii. Explaining the unusual choice of moniker, Grimes tweeted in part, "A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft)." Musk decided to correct the mother of his child, rather curtly replying, "SR-71, but yes." Grimes clapped back at this mansplaining flex by adding, "I am recovering from surgery and barely alive so may my typos b forgiven but, damnit. That was meant to be profound." It also seemed that the on-and-off couple couldn't agree on a pronunciation for their son's name, with Musk's articulation of X Æ A-Xii contradicting his then-partner's.

Following the duo's breakup in 2021, Grimes appeared to call out her ex in her song "Player of Games." In the lyrics, Grimes laments that an unnamed gaming enthusiast (presumably Musk) loved video games more than her. The Guardian argued that Musk's immortalization in his ex's lyrics would no doubt warn him against dating musicians in future.

Elon Musk has been accused of bragging about tax evasion

With a net worth of over $250 billion, as of this writing, one would be forgiven for thinking that paying a few billion in taxes would be a drop in the ocean for Elon Musk. Think again. When Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed Musk on the X platform for his supposed tax evasion, he retorted that he would "pay over $11 billion in taxes" in 2021. But as Representative Pramila Jayapal pointed out in an earlier tweet, Musk can make a whopping $36 billion a day.

That year, Musk, who has repeatedly referred to himself as "cash poor," took aim at a proposed "billionaire tax," in which the wealthiest would pay extra income tax to help fund social security programs and climate change policies, per The Wall Street Journal. "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you," Musk tweeted in part in response to the proposals. Taxes, or lack thereof, have been at the center of many a Musk controversy. In 2018, it was revealed by ProPublica that his tax bill came to a grand total of $0.

As Vanity Fair argued in response to Musk's criticism of the proposals, he has been highly strategic in his wealth accumulation, opting to eschew a traditional salary in favor of a compensation plan that includes stock options. This is apparently how Musk has sometimes "been able to get away with paying zero dollars" in tax and a measly "$68,000 in 2015 and $65,000 in 2017."

The Tesla CEO's displays of ageism

Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders is famed for his takedowns of the super rich. When he criticized billionaires, writing on X that "we must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share" in 2021, Elon Musk was having none of it. He resorted to arguably ageist tactics to silence the left-wing politician. "I keep forgetting that you're still alive," was his rather morbid response to the newly octogenarian Vermont senator. Calling out what she perceived as bullying tactics, activist Melissa Byrne replied, "Folks, quit buying @Tesla. Don't reward abusive men."

This would not be the last time Musk exhibited apparently ageist views. Soon after the fiasco, he tweeted that anyone over the age of 70 shouldn't be allowed to run for office. Meanwhile, in another post, he branded President Joe Biden "a damp [sock] puppet," rhetoric that mirrored Donald Trump's infamous attacks on his presidential nemesis (despite there being a mere four-year age gap between the two). Having reached the age of half a century that same year, some might argue that Musk is no spring chicken himself.

The Daily Mail targeted Musk for his overt displays of ageism. "Is Biden fit for office? That's not the point here. The point is the amount of people worldwide who wouldn't be embarrassed at publicly agreeing with Musk," the outlet argued. "Woke as we are all meant to be, having a dig at someone because of their age is still perfectly acceptable."

His firm has been accused of horrific treatment of employees

"Everyone in Tesla is in an abusive relationship with Elon [Musk]," a former Tesla exec once told Quartz. Although Musk likes to wax lyrical about the conditions in which his Tesla employees work, many of them would have a hard time agreeing with him. In an exposé by The Guardian, it was revealed that many of his workers were seriously injured while "working 12-hour shifts, six days a week." As one employee put it, "The main export is injuries, not cars."

Sexual harassment is also allegedly rife in the Tesla workplace. Per Forbes, six female employees claimed they had been sexually harassed at Tesla, allegations the company apparently ignored. Meanwhile, Musk's other venture, SpaceX, has faced similar accusations. In a blog post for Lioness, Ashley Kosak claimed she had been subjected to relentless sexual harassment while working as a Mission Integration Engineer. "I reported each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR, and nothing was done," she wrote.

Additionally, accusations of flagrant workplace racism have been levied at Tesla. According to the Los Angeles Times, Black workers allegedly frequently had the n-word hurled at them by fellow employees, managers, and supervisors. It was also claimed, per the outlet, that Black employees were segregated and "had to scrub floors on their hands and knees, and they were relegated to the Fremont, Calif., factory's most difficult physical jobs." Tesla responded to the claims, arguing that they "always disciplined and terminated" those who engaged in racist abuse.

Elon Musk slammed so-called 'wokeness'

As argued by The Guardian, it seems to be a trend for middle-aged celebs to come for so-called "woke" culture, particularly when it supposedly infringes on free speech within the comedy landscape. Elon Musk, who admittedly isn't quite known for his sense of humor, has slammed the advent of wokeness, as well, claiming it's suppressing comedy. 

In an interview with the satirical conservative outlet The Babylon Bee, he stated, "It should be okay to be humorous. Wokeness basically wants to make comedy illegal." Regarding comedian Dave Chappelle's controversial statements, he said, "Trying to shut down Chappelle, come on, man, that's crazy. ... At its heart, wokeness is divisive, exclusionary, and hateful." He also lamented the current state of comedy, which he claimed has been infected by a "woke-mind-virus."

Speaking of the brand of comedy that Musk claimed was being suppressed by the left, the billionaire — whose 2021 "Saturday Night Live" hosting stint has been notoriously ranked among the worst — flexed his comedic muscles in a bizarre social media post in 2022. In a since-deleted tweet, Musk posted a photo of Adolf Hitler with the caption, "Stop comparing me to Justin Trudeau. I had a budget." This was in reference to Musk's support for the Canadian truckers protesting against Prime Minister Trudeau's COVID-19 restrictions. Jewish groups condemned Musk's tweet, with the Anti-Defamation League arguing that "false comparisons of public leaders to Hitler are hurtful and offensive and only serve to trivialize the history of World War II and the Holocaust."

His tweet made Tesla shares crash

In 2020, Elon Musk made the bizarre decision to tweet that the "Tesla stock price is too high imo." The unprecedented move understandably raised more than a few eyebrows and ultimately led to a crash in the share price, which tanked by 12% in a single day. The following year, Musk posted a poll on the X platform, in which he asked his followers whether he should sell 10% of his Tesla shares to pay a tax bill. When almost 58% of voters opted for "Yes," Tesla stock plummeted $140 billion in one day, its biggest drop in a year.

Moreover, he has been accused of deliberately manipulating the market through his social media posts. As Vox pointed out, something very shady could be going on with Musk's tweets, since "a company's founder and CEO tweeting out meaningful information about the company arguably moves the price more than most." For instance, he's been accused of influencing the price of Dogecoin. In addition to tweets promoting Dogecoin, he even name dropped the cryptocurrency during his "Weekend Update" guest slot on "Saturday Night Live," referring to his on-screen financial expert as "The Dogefather." 

Following his stint on the show, the price of Dogecoin plummeted. As The Washington Post argued, "In a supposedly decentralized industry meant to be impervious to any single party's influence, market prices seem to soar or plunge based on the force of one man's tweets."

Elon Musk was criticized for attacking governmental assistance programs

Being among the wealthiest people in the world, Elon Musk needn't worry about relying on social security. But for millions of Americans, it's a safety net to protect the most vulnerable in society. Musk, however, seems to see social security entirely in terms of debt management. "True national debt, including unfunded entitlements, is at least $60 trillion — roughly three times the size of the entire US economy. Something has got to give," he tweeted in 2022. 

Many saw the comments as completely detached from the reality of ordinary working Americans. The Intercept argued that Musk was "stupendously ignorant about the U.S. economy and entitlement programs," noting that only "a tiny fraction" of government expenditure goes to social security. 

A few months earlier, Musk told The Wall Street Journal's CEO Summit (via CNN) that all government funding for electric car charging points should end. What made these attacks on government assistance even more outrageous, critics argued, was the fact that Musk himself has received numerous government subsidies for his businesses. For instance, Business Insider highlighted that "the richest person in the world says he doesn't want any help from the US government, but his companies have actually gotten billions of dollars worth." Throughout the years, Musk has received various subsidies, including $2.89 billion from NASA, $750 million from New York state, and even a portion of the $600 billion available for businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Werner Herzog called his Mars colonization plans 'fascism'

Among Elon Musk's innumerable grand ideas is the colonization of Mars. According to Musk, he wants to colonize Mars "just in case something goes wrong with Earth," he explained to Inverse. However, he has been heavily condemned for his plans. In his own interview with Inverse, film director Werner Herzog branded Musk's plans "an obscenity," arguing that people should "not be like the locusts." He went on to compare Musk's ideal to fascist ideology, describing it as a "master race [that] will dominate and improve our planet Earth and really improve humanity." Herzog also pondered why Musk was preoccupied with the idea of humans inhabiting Mars as opposed to working toward saving planet Earth.

Others have called Musk's colonization plot "dangerous." During a talk with fellow scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson (via Sky News), British chief astrophysicist Martin Rees said, "The idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion." Tyson agreed, echoing Herzog's stance by emphasizing that it would be "much easier to make Earth return to Earth again rather than terraforming Mars."

Musk himself has admitted that many potential Mars settlers will die on their journey to the planet. "You might not come back alive," he confessed to XPRIZE. "But it's a glorious adventure." When Captain Kirk called space "the final frontier," he probably didn't envisage a billionaire sending people off to their final frontier.

Tesla's been accused of violating workers' rights

Elon Musk has long faced accusations of mistreating his employees, as previously mentioned. But the sheer scale of the alleged misconduct has come to light amid accusations of at least 43 workers' rights violations, according to a 2022 tweet by Inequality Media co-founder Robert Reich.

Among the alleged violations are that Musk risked the safety of his employees for the sake of profit. For instance, in 2020, Tesla violated COVID-19 lockdown rules by reopening its Bay Area factory in California. Subsequently, workers were allegedly fired for staying home during the pandemic, per The Washington Post. "The company, Elon included, they don't really care about the health and well-being of the employees," an employee claimed to the outlet. "The manufacturing of the vehicles supersedes our safety." Meanwhile, another worker, whose young son was "born with respiratory problems," per the outlet, alleged that he was misled into thinking he could stay at home during the pandemic without losing his job. However, he was also terminated.

In March 2022, more allegations surfaced. Per Business Insider, Tesla is facing dozens of employee lawsuits, including claims of harboring a toxic work environment of unabashed misogyny and racism. One employee, who said she faced "near-daily" sexual harassment, told The Washington Post, "After almost three years of experiencing all the harassment, it robs your sense of security — it almost dehumanizes you." Per the Daily Beast, another worker, Owen Diaz, was awarded $137 million after a San Francisco court ruled that he had been subjected to racist abuse at work, to which Musk apparently turned a "blind eye."

Did Elon Musk threaten employees against unionizing?

Elon Musk has a history of apparently being anti-union. For instance, in 2018, a Tesla worker told The Guardian that Musk cultivated a work environment where the mere mention of unions was sacrilege. "Elon Musk says he's neutral toward the union. ... They've been anything but neutral," they claimed. "Anything union or pro-union is shut down really fast." Musk's apparent war on unions didn't end there. Robert Reich tweeted in March 2022 that Musk "illegally threatened to take away stock options if employees unionized."

Per Business Insider, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla was guilty of repeated labor law violations in 2021. The company was accused of "coercively interrogating" employees who attempted to unionize. According to The New York Times, Tesla employee Richard Ortiz was fired in 2017 after Musk discovered his unionization efforts. Subsequently, Tesla was ordered to reimburse him for lost wages. Musk was also ordered to delete a tweet in which he wrote, "Why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing?" This was viewed as a threat against employees.

Also in March 2022, Musk tweeted, "I'd like hereby to invite UAW to hold a union vote at their convenience. Tesla will do nothing to stop them." The tweet was in response to Kiss frontman Gene Simmons suggesting that President Joe Biden has overlooked Musk's business contributions due to Tesla being "non-union." As argued by The Guardian, Musk's vow to allow workers to hold a union vote is incongruous with his past actions.

His business deals in a controversial region of China

In early 2022, Elon Musk faced censure for opening a Tesla showroom in the Xinjiang region of China. According to critics, Xinjiang is at the center of China's alleged wrongful imprisonment and torture of Uyghur Muslims. Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing told BBC News, "Any company doing business in Xinjiang is complicit in the cultural genocide taking place there. But Tesla's actions are especially despicable." The Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Musk and urged him to "cease what amounts to economic support for genocide," per The Hill.

Beijing has denied these claims of abusing human rights, insisting that its treatment of the Uyghur people is "part of [its] anti-terrorism efforts," per The Guardian. But critics dispute this. The AP reports that Uyghur Muslims are "subjected to political and religious re-education" programs and mass sterilization, including forced abortions and contraceptive implants. Subsequently, Musk has been accused of being complicit in these alleged abuses. Additionally, there are fears over the potential for forced labor. Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch tweeted that it would be near impossible for Musk to know whether or not forced labor would be used in his Xinjiang showroom.

As Business Insider argued, Musk may not be breaking any laws by operating a showroom in the controversial region, but his actions were antithetical to international efforts to expose the alleged genocide of Uyghurs, highlighting that while "companies, like Apple and Nike, have worked to remove Uyghur forced labor from their supply chains, Tesla went the opposite route."

Grimes said he made her 'live below the poverty line'

On-and-off odd couple Elon Musk and Grimes have been in no shortage of contentious moments. And their dalliance has kept getting weirder. In a March 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, Grimes divulged all manner of bizarre things about the man she termed her "boyfriend," yet with whom she no longer lived, including the revelation that they had welcomed their second child into their lives, a daughter named Y — or Exa Dark Sideræl Musk. But perhaps the most alarming claim Grimes made about her on-again-off-again beau was that he supposedly made her live "below the poverty line." It should be noted that Musk's net worth at the time had surpassed $300 billion.

Musk's insistence on living well below his means (and then some) apparently had negative consequences on the mother of his children. As Grimes explained to Vanity Fair, Musk refused to buy a new mattress even when her side of the bed featured a gaping hole. "Bro does not live like a billionaire," she said. "Bro lives at times below the poverty line. To the point where I was like, can we not live in a very insecure $40,000 house? Where the neighbors, like, film us, and there's no security, and I'm eating peanut butter for eight days in a row?"

The claims came at a time when the notoriously frugal Musk, who once lived on a $1 a day food budget, revealed that he was relinquishing all of his seven homes, opting to "own no house," per Sky News.

The Musk brothers are under investigation for insider trading

Elon Musk has long faced claims of market manipulation, but by February 2022, he and his brother were under investigation for insider trading. Suspicions grew after Elon's brother, Kimbal Musk, sold $108 million of his Tesla stock right before Elon conducted a Twitter poll in which he asked if he should sell 10% of his shares, per The Wall Street Journal. The poll led to Tesla's share price plummeting, but critics believe Kimbal's lucky escape was down to more than mere coincidence. Law experts told the WSJ that there's a high likelihood Elon told his younger brother about the plan, though these claims have not yet been proven.

Whether these allegations are true or not, they will be pretty tough to prove. "It may simply be a total coincidence that he sold right before a market-moving event," lawyer Howard A. Fischer told CNBC. "Or maybe they were at a family barbecue ... and Kimbal just surmised that Elon was about to do something without having a specific conversation about the stock." As for Elon, he's adamant that there are no dodgy dealings going on.

When the Financial Times asked about the seemingly shady series of events, the Tesla billionaire insisted that "Kimbal had no idea I was going to do a Twitter poll," adding that his Tesla lawyers were supposedly "aware" of his plans to conduct the contentious poll. Seeing as Elon Musk has apparently predicted the future on more than one occasion, perhaps his brother simply shares his psychic prowess.

Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition was instantly controversial

In January 2022, Elon Musk began heavily investing in X, formerly known as Twitter, making a series of moves that saw him acquire the company at a cost of $44 billion. The deal closed that October — and the following month, he began massive layoffs, firing close to half of the staff. Days later, Musk introduced the Twitter Blue subscription service (later called X Premium), which charged $8 per month for the blue checkmark indicating a user is verified. This resulted in a rash of celebs — ranging from LeBron James to Chrissy Teigen — declaring their refusal to pay, along with a tsunami of fake celebrity accounts, courtesy of those $8 checkmarks. 

Musk courted further controversy when he changed Twitter's name to X. Meanwhile, the layoffs continued; as of May 2023, only 1,000 or so employees remained of a workforce that had been 7,500 when Musk took over. Musk's moves didn't do a whole lot to increase the company's share price; that October, X announced its current value was $19 billion — less than half of what Musk paid for it. 

With the guardrails and guidelines on content also essentially removed, it didn't take long for X to become a platform for all manner of racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, disinformation, etc. Arguably, the icing on the cake came in December 2023, when Musk made the highly controversial move to reinstate the account of Alex Jones, who had previously been ordered to pay $1.5 billion in damages to families of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting for spreading conspiracy theories about them, per Reuters.

He's estranged from his daughter

Elon Musk has had various romantic relationships over the years, and he is the father of 11 children by several different women. While his relationships with his offspring haven't typically been fodder for public consumption, his rapport with one of his kids has made headlines. That would be Elon's daughter, Vivian Wilson, whom he shares with first ex-wife Justine Musk (née Wilson). In June 2022, Vivian came out as transgender, legally changing her birth name by also taking on her mother's maiden name in an apparent rebuke of her dad. In her court filing, Vivian left no ambiguity about her feelings about her father. "I no longer live with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form," she stated (via The Guardian).

Interviewed by the Financial Times, Elon addressed the state of their relationship. The Tesla billionaire claimed that Vivian had become brainwashed by what he described as "neo-Marxist" ideology. "It's full-on communism ... and a general sentiment that if you're rich, you're evil," he added. Elon took a circumspect view of his estrangement from Vivian. "It may change," he said of the state of their relationship, "but I have very good relationships with all the others. Can't win them all."

In The Wall Street Journal's excerpt from Walter Isaacson's biography "Elon Musk," Elon claimed that Vivian had cut off all communication with him. "I've made many overtures," the businessman said of his apparent attempts to mend the rift. "But she doesn't want to spend time with me."

Grimes sued Elon Musk over claims he wouldn't let her see their children

While Elon Musk's relationship with his daughter, Vivian Wilson, may be strained, a whole other situation arose with his youngest kids, whom he shares with Grimes. That situation led to a lawsuit, filed by the Canadian singer-songwriter (whose real name is Claire Elise Boucher) in the fall of 2023, accusing Musk of refusing to let her see one of their children. As the Los Angeles Times reported, she'd filed a "petition to establish parental relationship." 

That petition followed some curious statements she posted (and then deleted) on Musk's X platform. Grimes responded to a photo posted on X shared by Walter Isaacson — the aforementioned author of the biography "Elon Musk" — in which Musk is pictured with two of his kids. "Tell Shivon to unblock me and tell Elon to let me see my son or plz respond to my lawyer," Grimes tweeted, referring to Shivon Zilis, the mother of twins that she and Musk welcomed in November 2021, after he'd split from Grimes. "I have never even been allowed to see a photo of these children until this moment," she claimed, "despite the situation utterly ripping my family apart."

Interestingly, Business Insider subsequently reported that, just days before Grimes filed her lawsuit, Musk took legals steps to attain full parental rights of the ex-couple's three kids, claiming that he's had "actual care, control, and possession of each child since the birth of each child."

Elon Musk got backlash over an antisemitic tweet

It was one thing for Elon Musk to allow antisemitic views to proliferate on X, but quite another for him to actually endorse those views. Yet that's precisely what happened when Musk responded to a tweet in November 2023 touting a conspiracy theory that Jews are responsible for minorities immigrating into Western nations, part of a nefarious (and entirely imaginary) plot to wrest control from the white, non-Jewish majority. "You have said the actual truth," Musk tweeted.

That remark earned Musk a scathing rebuke from Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, an anti-hate organization that responds to antisemitism. "At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use one's influence to validate and promote antisemitic theories," Greenblatt tweeted in response to Musk. Greenblatt wasn't only in his condemnation of Musk, with White House spokesperson Andrew Bates issuing a statement (via CNN): "We condemn this abhorrent promotion of Antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms."

While speaking at The New York Times DealBook Summit, per ABC News, Musk apologized (although his tweet remains up, as of this writing). "I'm sorry for that post," he said. "It was foolish of me. Of the 30,000 it might be literally the worst and dumbest post I've ever done. And I've tried my best to clarify six ways from Sunday, but you know at least I think it'll be obvious that in fact I'm far from being antisemitic."

Advertisers fled X when he refused to ban antisemitic content

To say that Elon Musk's apology for his tweet agreeing with an antisemitic tweet fell flat would be an understatement. In addition to being hit with backlash, Musk was also hit with a wave of powerful companies pulling their ads from the social media platform. In fact, the advertisers who fled X included Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global, and Apple. Those companies were soon joined by others, with Walmart following suit. "We aren't advertising on X as we've found other platforms to better reach our customers," a company spokesperson told Bloomberg

All those advertisers exiting the platform en masse proved led to devastating predictions about the slumping ad sales on X, which had already been consistently decreasing in revenue since Musk's takeover, while also experiencing a 30% drop in users actively tweeting prior to that. 

While Musk apologized during an appearance at The New York Times DealBook Summit, he also offered a defiant message to the advertisers who'd pulled out. "Don't advertise," Musk said, as reported by Global News. "If someone is going to try and blackmail me with advertising? Blackmail me with money? Go f*** yourself." Musk also took direct aim at Disney CEO Bob Iger — who'd appeared at that same conference prior to Musk's interview — for pulling Disney advertising off X. "Go f*** yourself, is that clear? Hey Bob, if you're in the audience. That's how I feel, don't advertise."

He faced a libel lawsuit for accusing a guy of connections to neo-Nazis

Elon Musk's tweets have frequently landed him in hot water, and such was the case when he commented on some X posts about a June 2023 Portland street fight involving two right-wing groups, the Proud Boys and the Rose City Nationalists, a neo-Nazi gang. When video of the brawl went viral, an X user mistakenly identified one of the participants as Ben Brody, a then-22-year-old college grad. As NPR reported, Brody is not the guy in the video, and was in California, not Portland, on the day of the dustup.

Musk felt the need to offer several comments on that post, even though numerous X users informed that it's not Brody in the video. "Looks like one is a college student (who wants to join the govt) and another is maybe an Antifa member, but nonetheless a probable false flag situation," Musk tweeted, spreading a conspiracy theory that the melee was a government-run "false flag" operation.

When Musk allegedly refused Brody's attempts to get him to recant his tweets, Brody launched a $1-million defamation lawsuit that October. "Ben was put through intense terror because of Musk's recklessness, and now Ben finds himself depressed, freaked out, and mentally distraught right at the crucial personal moment when he exits college and enters his career path," the suit noted, while pointing out that Brody is Jewish, and that being identified as a neo-Nazi "would be utterly profane and blasphemous if it were true."

The mayor of Paris quit the 'global sewer' she dubbed Elon Musk's X

A number of high-profile people exited X, formerly Twitter, during Elon Musk's tenure as owner, a list that's included musicians Jack White and Trent Reznor, model Gigi Hadid, comedian Stephen Fry, and "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes, to name a few.

In November 2023, that list grew to include Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris. She issued two versions of a lengthy tweet (one in French, of course, and the other in English) to explain her decision to quit. With Paris hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics, Hidalgo cited the uncontrolled disinformation, racism, and antisemitism that had been flourishing under Musk's watch. "Twitter, far from being the groundbreaking medium that initially made information accessible to the greatest possible number of people, has in recent years become an impressive tool for destroying our democracies," she wrote in part. "This platform and its owner intentionally exacerbates tensions and conflicts."

Hidalgo held nothing back when she added, "This medium has become a gigantic global sewer, and we should continue to wade into it? ... I refuse to endorse this evil scheme."

He kept on promoting a debunked conspiracy theory

A precursor of sorts to the nutty Qanon conspiracy theory Pizzagate is equally bonkers. Thoroughly and repeatedly debunked, the conspiracy theory held that a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant was a front for a nefarious sex-trafficking ring run by Bill and Hillary Clinton, servicing a vast network of devil-worshipping, pedophile Democrats. The bizarre lie had real-world consequences in 2016 when a gunman who believed the conspiracy theory shot up the place, ultimately surrendering to the authorities when he found no evidence of child-trafficking — just pizza. Thankfully, no one was injured in this incident.

Despite the fact that the Pizzagate fairytale has been proven to be utter nonsense (and very likely stemming from Russian state media disinformation), Elon Musk continued to promote the conspiracy theory on several occasions years later. According to NBC News, in November 2023, Musk tweeted his belief in Pizzagate five times during a two-week period.  

In one of those posts, Musk retweeted a meme featuring characters from "The Office" discussing the veracity of Pizzagate, writing in the since-deleted tweet, "does seem at least a little suspicious." Other users on the platform responded with posts ranging from the hilarious to the critical, including several tweeting a photo of Musk and Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, repeating Musk's phrase.

Elon Musk's embarrassing 'cage match' proposal against Mark Zuckerberg

When Elon Musk's takeover of X resulted in an exodus of users, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — a longtime Musk rival — responded by unveiling his own social media platform called Threads, pitched as an alternative. This kicked off a war of words between the two tech moguls that threatened to turn physical in June 2023, when Musk commented on Zuckerberg taking up MMA fighting as a hobby by tweeting, "I'm up for a cage match if he is lol." Zuckerberg's reply came in the form of an Instagram Story, in which he captioned a screenshot of Musk's tweet with the declaration, "Send Me Location." 

That led to some truly bizarre exchanges between the two, with Musk at one point tweeting that the match would be held in Italy, showcase ancient Rome, and be livestreamed on both platforms. While Zuckerberg shared numerous videos of his grueling MMA training, Musk posted a 53-second video of himself curling a 45-lb dumbbell. 

Musk then appeared to back down, tweeting that he was getting an MRI and might require neck or upper back surgery, which would postpone the fight. Zuckerberg, however, was raring to go. After Musk continued to make excuses to delay the fight, Zuckerberg called it off. "I offered a real date. [UFC president] Dana White offered to make this a legit competition for charity," Zuckerberg posted on Threads that August. "Elon won't confirm a date, then says he needs surgery. ... If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me."

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