Elon Musk is now the richest man in world history, with an estimated worth of $271 billion. That’s 271 followed by nine zeros, or, to put it another way, more than the net worth of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett combined. Much of Musk’s wealth comes from his companies Tesla and SpaceX, but not all of it. In fact, a sizable chunk was obtained thanks to Musk’s shrewd lifestyle choices and good, old-fashioned luck.
Recently I sat down with Musk to discuss his wealth-accumulation strategies. Snippets of that conversation are below. A full transcript of the conversation could have been found on my Web site had my phone battery not died.
“Whether I’m dining out with billionaire Mark Cuban or my mom and dad, who are on Social Security, it’s strictly Dutch.”
“Around this time, I was contacted by a Nigerian prince who was having trouble getting a large amount of cash out of his country. He promised to share it with me if I sent him $10,000, which I did. A few weeks later, he sent me $100 million.”
“All my life, I’ve studiously avoided dating Mariah Carey, going into business with Donald Trump, or joining any organized religion. The results speak for themselves.”
“I know my signature black jackets look like expensive Italian leather, but between you and me—pleather.”
“I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. November 1, 2011. I was in a Walmart parking lot. I looked down, and there was a wallet containing $38.”
“For the past 10 years I’ve been secretly working on weekends as an emergency plumber. So far, I’ve raked in just shy of 15 mil.”
“Just about everybody offers free shipping. But the Musker doesn’t click Buy unless they offer free returns too.”
“Let me see. It was during the second term of George W. Bush. So that would be 2006–7. Yeah, that’s the last time I paid income tax.”
John Ficarra was the editor of Mad magazine