"Twitter is a war zone. If somebody's going to jump in the war zone, it's like, okay, you're in the arena. Let's go."
That's what Elon Musk said during a "60 Minutes" interview in which he was asked about controversial tweets that had landed him huge fines and cost his shareholders.
Though Musk is also known for posting "dank memes" and for revitalizing the space race, some of his public comments have left many scratching their heads. Here are a few of the Tesla and SpaceX CEO's most surprising and controversial tweets.
1. Elon Musk's Twitter manifesto
My Twitter is pretty much complete nonsense at this point— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2019
Before we take a deep dive into the SpaceX, Tesla, Neuralink, and Boring Company man's tweets, it's important to note that most of his tweets are sent out amidst a sea of memes and jokes, many of which he posts himself.
I was always crazy on Twitter fyi— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 15, 2019
Last year, Musk even suggested himself that we shouldn't take anything he tweets too seriously, by saying he was "always crazy on Twitter."
The trouble is, when his tweets cost his shareholders billions, it's hard not to take him seriously.
2. Elon Musk wipes $14 billion off Tesla's value with one tweet
Tesla stock price is too high imo— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
Just last week, Musk tweeted that he thought "Tesla stock price is too high". The result? $14 billion was wiped off the electric vehicle company's value, and $3bn was taken off Musk's own stake in Tesla as investors bailed following his tweet.
Dude...I just lost $10k because of this tweet. Wtf is wrong with u— Elvis (@TradeLikeElvis) May 1, 2020
As the tweet above by @TradeLikeElvis attests, many people weren't happy. However, the bizarre tweets didn't start or end there.
3. Musk says he'll sell almost all physical possessions
My gf @Grimezsz is mad at me— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
Shortly after Musk's Tesla stock price tweet, the Tesla CEO posted that he would sell almost all of his physical possessions. He then followed up the tweet by saying his girlfriend, electronic pop musician Grimes, was mad at him.
Though Wedbush many of Musk's recent tweets are "tongue in cheek and it's Elon being Elon," Securities analyst Daniel Ives told Reuters, it seems that he was actually being serious in this case. Musk has actually started to put several of his mansions up for sale.
3. Elon Musk's highly controversial response to the COVID-19 lockdown
FREE AMERICA NOW— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2020
He also inaccurately predicted that there will be “probably close to zero new cases in the U.S., too, by end of April,” and attacked CNN for reporting on statements made by government officials saying hospitals had not received Tesla factory-made ventilators he had promised to deliver.
4. "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."
In a now-deleted tweet from 2018, Musk called British diver Vernon Unsworth, who was a diver in the Thai cave rescue operation to save a group of stranded boys, a pedophile. As Business Insider reported at the time, he also said he would bet money to back his accusation.
What had irked the Tesla CEO? Unsworth had previously claimed the miniature submarine Musk had designed and sent to Thailand to help rescue the boys was merely a publicity stunt, as the submarine was ineffective. Musk later apologized to Unsworth and deleted the tweet, though the saga continued.
5. Musk wouldn't let the Unsworth situation go
You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services. And you call yourself @yoda …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
When Elon Musk was sent a tweet mentioning Unsworth later in 2018, he continued to suggest that the diver was guilty — seemingly going back on his apology.
He later pressed the tweeter to investigate Unsworth by saying, "did you investigate at all? I'm guessing [the] answer is no. Why?"
6. He did not take kindly to being criticized as elitist
You’re an idiot— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 15, 2017
In 2017, Wired wrote that Musk criticized public transportation at a tech conference, saying it's inadequate as it doesn't take us exactly where we want to go and we have to share space with large groups of "random strangers".
He did not take kindly to Public Transit Planning and Policy Consultant Jarrett Walker suggesting these comments reflected a "luxury (or pathology) only rich people could afford," as can be seen in his response.
7. Musk's "420" cannabis joke tweet that cost him, and his shareholders, millions
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Musk, now famously, tweeted this on August 7, 2018. It was all a weed joke — April 20, or 4/20, is a popular holiday for celebrating cannabis culture.
The post led to a lawsuit from the SEC which resulted in a settlement that required Musk to pay a $20 million fine. He was also made to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board of directors for three years.
8. Musk "investor support is confirmed tweet" led to the lawsuit from the SEC
Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote. https://t.co/bIH4Td5fED— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Following on from his $420 tweet, Musk said the go-private deal was supported by investors and only hinged on a shareholder vote. Subsequent reports and a lawsuit from the SEC suggest he was not being honest.
9. Digging a hole with the SEC
Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2018
This dig aimed at the SEC, which stands for the Securities and Exchange Commission, was tweeted only four days after he reached a settlement with the government agency. Musk seemed unwilling to let a sleeping dog lie.
10. Any regrets about the "$420" tweet? Seemingly not
Worth it— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 27, 2018
When one tweeter asked Musk, "how about that one that cost you 20M, how was the 'like' ration on that one," he replied with just the two words you can see in the tweet above.
11. Nuclear warfare against our red neighbor
Nuke Mars!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 16, 2019
If there's a tweet that perfectly encapsulates the two, seemingly contradictory, public personas of Elon Musk — the inspiring tech entrepreneur and the controversial egoist — it's this one.
On the surface, "Nuke Mars!" might seem like a childish way to publicly state that hitting Mars with thermonuclear weapons could warm the planet, and make it habitable. The truth is that Musk and SpaceX's efforts to create technologies to get us to the Red Planet are unparalleled.
Aspirationally, decades— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 18, 2019