Fact Check: Did Elon Musk Inherit Apartheid Money From His South African Father? (2023)

Fact Check: Did Elon Musk Inherit Apartheid Money From His South African Father? (1)

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, grew up in South Africa and made his way via Canada to the U.S. as a transfer student before attending the Wharton School and becoming the billionaire tech founder he is today.

With a net worth of $37 billion, Musk hopes to revolutionize transportation on Earth and in space, bringing fully-electric vehicles to the mass market through his auto manufacturing company, Tesla. SpaceX, his rocket company, is valued at $20 billion-plus. He also co-founded PayPal, which means — a Twitter user said — “The WHOLE bank on the internet was started by him (yes, your credit card as well)”. Other companies started by Musk include Neuralink, which is working on developing implantable brain–machine interfaces.

Born in 1971, Musk grew up in Pretoria, South Africa. He’s the son of Maye Musk, a model and dietitian from Canada, and Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, and sailor. Maye and Errol divorced in 1980 when Elon was about 9 years old. After the divorce, Elon lived mostly with his father until he left South Africa at age 17 — partly to avoid conscription in the South African army. He attended Queen’s University in Canada.

Fact Check: Did Elon Musk Inherit Apartheid Money From His South African Father? (2)
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A recurring theme on social media is the claim that Musk’s father owned an emerald mine and paid for his son’s “privileged upbringing and education.” Musk has denied that story. Errol made money by consulting and developing properties, Forbes reported.

The emerald mine story, reported in 2018 in Business Insider, tells how, in the mid-1980s, Errol acquired a “half-share in a Zambian emerald mine, which would help to fund his family’s lavish lifestyle of yachts, skiing holidays, and expensive computers.”

“It was that lifestyle, Errol says, that turned Elon into the kind of merchant adventurer who would laterbreak the rules of the motoring businesswith Tesla, then go on tochange spaceflight with SpaceX,” BI reported.

Errol talked about Elon’s fascination with computers when they first came out in the mid-’80s, during an interview on radio station 702 in Johannesburg, as reported by Forbes. Elon may have been 6 or 7 years old at the time and begged his dad to get him a ticket to a very early computer conference in South Africa. At the conference, Elon talked to some professors who told Errol, “This boy needs to get his hands on one of these computers.

“So we got one, thank God at a discount, and with that computer he taught himself, using Disk Operating System, which is DOS, to program,” Errol said.

(Video) Fact Check: Elon Musk Makes Bizzare Claim That His Father Didn't Own an Emerald Mine

Rolling Stone reported in 2017 that “Errol was, by his own account, making money in the often dangerous worlds of construction and emerald mining –at times so much that he claims he couldn’t close his safe.”

In December 2019, Elon denied the emerald mine-and-lavish-lifestyle story on Twitter, saying it was a lie.

“This is a pretty awful lie,” Elon tweeted. “I left South Africa by myself when I was 17 with just a backpack & suitcase of books. Worked on my Mom’s cousin’s farm in Saskatchewan & a lumber mill in Vancouver. Went to Queens Univ with scholarship & debt, then same to UPenn/Wharton & Stanford.”

In a follow-up tweet, Elon said his father “didn’t own an emerald mine & I worked my way through college, ending up ~$100k in student debt.”

Errol owned one of the largest homes in Pretoria and took his children on many overseas trips, according to the book, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” written by Ashlee Vance.

Elon and other family members have opened up about years of living in debt after they left South Africa. Soon after Elon left for Canada, his mother, Maye, moved there too, along with Elon’s brother, Kimbal, and sister, Tosca.

Elon tweeted that he had $100,000 debt after college. His mother Maye responded on Twitter in December 2019 in defense of Elon.

“To add to the truth, we went to Boston Chicken in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving because we couldn’t afford a turkey. And we spent three weeks making our rent-controlled apartment livable in Toronto,” Maye tweeted.

All the Musk siblings did well, Forbes reported. Kimbal is a millionaire who owns restaurant chains and spearheads a nonprofit education program, The Kitchen Community, which grows vegetables in the U.S. Tosca is a film producer and director.

(Video) Now We Know The Truth About Elon Musk And His Father

But the emerald mine story keeps coming back.

@Keewa tweeted on May 9, 2020, “Remind: Elon Musk inherited money from his father’s apartheid emerald mine, that doesn’t mean he’s clever”

Several respondents on social media disputed the emerald mine and privileged-lifestyle story, defending Musk’s intelligence and questioning the intelligence of the person who started the thread.

Jack @lets_gobaby tweeted, “Ok but how does inheriting money mean you aren’t smart?”

Bridges to Italy tweeted, “Yeah, he’s not that bright, just like the guy who started this thread. They’re the same, except for the fact that he is a billionaire, started multiple successful companies and doesn’t live in his mother’s basement. Aside from that he’s just dumb”.

@spylinen tweeted, “The mine was in Zambia, which became independent of the UK in 1964. The share in the mine wasn’t acquired until the 1980s. Musk may not be a great guy, but I fail to see any apartheid link to his father’s emerald mine.”

@grard97 tweeted, “Remind: Elon Musk owns an electric and autonomous car company
A private space landing rockets company
An AI company
A Neuroscience company
A Solar Panel and energy storage company
The WHOLE bank on the internet was started by him (yes, your credit card as well)”

@C49015142 tweeted, “I thought I read in Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath that his company received $500 million from the US government, so we are all subsidizing him”

Chromatica Warrior @DebbieTweeted “Can he be held responsible for his dad’s ethics tho? To me, he sure is trying to make the world better right now, and that’s the best thing he could do with his father’s money”.

(Video) Errol Musk: The Brilliant, ‘Evil’ Father of Elon Musk

Not all the tweets were supportive of Elon. Former Tesla employees have reported racist behavior and attempted to sue over it.

luis carruthers @orthereaboot tweeted, “When the same pattern of racist behavior happens at all $tsla locations, it’s the company that’s racist, and the fish rots from @elonmusk‘s head.”

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Former Tesla employee Marcus Vaughn, who worked in the Fremont, California, factory in 2017, alleged that the company’s production floor was a “hotbed for racist behavior.” Supervisors regularly used the “N word” around Black workers and he said he was fired after complaining to human resources about workplace harassment. “Although Tesla stands out as a groundbreaking company at the forefront of the electric car revolution, its standard operating procedure at the Tesla factory is pre-civil-rights-era race discrimination,” Vaughn wrote in his complaint, according to a Daily Beast report.

In a 2017 email to employees which the company later released in response to one of the lawsuits, Elon warned against “being a huge jerk” to members of “a historically less represented group.” He also wrote, “if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology.”

“But by many accounts, the issues at the Tesla factory go beyond the need for a thick skin,” New York Times reported.

Elon Musk does not care about Black people.

(Video) Why I Hate Elon Musk

Example after example after example. Has even greenlit racism by saying those on receiving end need “thick skin”.https://t.co/DhpANcrqNp https://t.co/OESO1BJTtE

— luis carruthers (@orthereaboot) December 29, 2019

Can he be held responsible for his dad's ethics tho? To me, he sure is trying to make the world better right now, and that's the best thing he could do with his father's money

— evermore bby (@DebbieTweete) May 10, 2020

He didn’t own an emerald mine & I worked my way through college, ending up ~$100k in student debt. I couldn’t even afford a 2nd PC at Zip2, so programmed at night & website only worked during day. Where is this bs coming from?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 28, 2019

This is a pretty awful lie. I left South Africa by myself when I was 17 with just a backpack & suitcase of books. Worked on my Mom’s cousin’s farm in Saskatchewan & a lumber mill in Vancouver. Went to Queens Univ with scholarship & debt, then same to UPenn/Wharton & Stanford.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 28, 2019

When the same pattern of racist behavior happens at all $tsla locations, it’s the company that’s racist, and the fish rots from @elonmusk ‘s head.https://t.co/aKAP7vrT6G https://t.co/EMN9xQH06V

(Video) Did Elon Musk's Parents Own an Emerald Mine? | Titus Podcast

— luis carruthers (@orthereaboot) November 25, 2019

FAQs

Did Elon Musk get any money from his father? ›

The world's richest man said he and his brother have bankrolled their father, Errol Musk, since he "ran out of money in the 90s." In a tweet on Wednesday, Elon Musk said: "My brother & I financially supported him & his extended family in South Africa since then on condition that he not do bad things.

Where did Elon Musk's family money come from? ›

In the mid-1980s, the family profited handsomely from Errol Musk's purchasing of an emerald mine, after selling their airplane for £80,000 (the equivalent of £320,000 today).

Did Elon Musks father own an emerald mine? ›

"Elon Musk came from a family that owned an emerald mine in Apartheid South Africa. Bill Gates' mom helped Microsoft get a deal with IBM. Jeff Bezos' garage-based start was funded by a quarter-million dollar investment from his parents.

Is Elon Musk originally from South Africa? ›

He purchased the social media service Twitter in 2022. Elon Musk, (born June 28, 1971, Pretoria, South Africa), South African-born American entrepreneur who cofounded the electronic-payment firm PayPal and formed SpaceX, maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

How much money Elon Musk got from his parents? ›

In Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, it is claimed that the Musks' father, Errol Musk, provided them with US$28,000 during this time, but Elon Musk later denied this, claiming that his father invested in a later round of funding.

What is Elon Musk's IQ? ›

IQ 155. Elon Musk IQ, which is reported to be 155 IQ, is one of the most intriguing aspects because there is no official evidence proving the precise amount.

How did Elon Musk's father make money? ›

The controversial patriarch: Errol Musk – unknown

Born in South Africa, Errol worked as an engineer, pilot, consultant, property developer and, controversially, may have co-owned an emerald mine at one point in his career, according to The Buffalo News – though son Elon vehemently denied this.

What year did apartheid begin? ›

Although many of the segregationist policies dated back to the early decades of the twentieth century, it was the election of the Nationalist Party in 1948 that marked the beginning of legalized racism's harshest features called Apartheid.

Is Musk a good guy? ›

Musk wasn't very social in the workplace, but he said Musk is very intelligent and easy to talk to. “He's actually a really good guy,” Medlock said. “He's incredibly smart, so he's intimidating in that regard, but if you look at it based on his kids.

How did Elon Musk get so wealthy? ›

Elon Musk rocketed to billionaire status, after entering the elite club in 2012 just nine years later he tops the list. His wealth is based mainly on his shareholdings in the electric car firm Tesla, of which he is the CEO.

How much money did Elon start with? ›

It's crazy that he went from basically $0 in 1995 when he started Zip2, to $180 million in just 7 years! Although Elon has made billions of dollars, he considers himself cash-poor.

Where is the largest emerald mine in the world? ›

Kagem Emerald Mine, Zambia | Gemfields. Let us introduce you to Kagem, believed to be the world's single largest emerald producing mine. Located in the southern part of Zambia's copper belt, this open-pit mine lies in the centre of a mineral-rich province called the Ndola Rural Emerald Restricted Area.

Does Elon Musk have a house in South Africa? ›

Nope, despite having enough money to fund SA for a couple of years, Musk doesn't own a single property. According to Musk, he doesn't have a house.

Which country is RSA? ›

South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa.

What has Elon Musk done for South Africa? ›

Elon Musk's SpaceX will launch three South Africa-produced nanosatellites into orbit as part of the upcoming Transporter-3 mission -- the first wholly made in the continent of his birth to be sent into space.

Is Elon Musk a self made billionaire? ›

Elon Musk is a self-made billionaire who is redefining the way humanity travels at ground level and through outer space. The 46-year-old made his fortune as a co-founder of PayPal before moving on to usher in an era of automobiles fueled by sustainable energy at Tesla Motors.

Who has 400 IQ? ›

Marilyn vos Savant (/ˌvɒs səˈvɑːnt/; born Marilyn Mach; August 11, 1946) is an American magazine columnist who has the highest recorded intelligence quotient (IQ) in the Guinness Book of Records, a competitive category the publication has since retired.
...
Marilyn vos Savant
SpouseRobert Jarvik ​ ( m. 1987)​
Children2
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What is the IQ of Mark Zuckerberg? ›

Although it is unknown whether Mark Zuckerberg has ever taken an IQ test, sources estimate his IQ to be around 152. This is considered to be a genius IQ.

What did Elon Musk's father do to him? ›

How much does Elon Musk make a day? ›

His net worth in 2022 was calculated to be about $273 billion. This means he makes an average of $432 million per day!

What phone does Elon Musk use? ›

Elon Musk Just RELEASED The Tesla Phone! (RIP iPhones) - YouTube

Which countries helped South Africa during apartheid? ›

Countries such as Zambia, Tanzania and the Soviet Union provided military support for the ANC and PAC. It was more difficult, though, for neighbouring states such as Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, because they were economically dependent on South Africa. Still, they did feed the struggle underground.

Who founded South Africa? ›

The first European settlement in southern Africa was established by the Dutch East India Company in Table Bay (Cape Town) in 1652. Created to supply passing ships with fresh produce, the colony grew rapidly as Dutch farmers settled to grow crops.

Who created apartheid in South Africa? ›

Called the 'Architect of the Apartheid' Hendrik Verwoerd was Prime Minister as leader of the National Party from 1958-66 and was key in shaping the implementation of apartheid policy.

Did Elon Musk grow up rich? ›

Elon Musk was born into a wealthy family in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971. His mother, Maye, is a Canadian dietitian and model, while his father, Errol, is an engineer. While Musk remains close to his mother, his relationship with his father is understood to be strained.

How is Elon Musk so smart? ›

Another unique feature that has helped Musk become as smart as he is today is his passion for learning. By constantly learning about new topics and using his critical thinking skills, Elon Musk is able to maintain a strong sense of fluid thinking and crystal clear thinking.

Does Elon Musk do anything good? ›

Musk has a fraught relationship with giving. He recently argued that fellow billionaires employ philanthropy simply as a façade to curry public favor. In late November, he donated $5.7 billion “to charity” without disclosing any further details.

How can I become rich? ›

6 Steps to Become a Millionaire by 30
  1. Start Saving Early. The easiest way to build your savings is to start early. ...
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Spending and Debt. Stop buying things you don't need. ...
  3. Save 15% of Your Income—or More. ...
  4. Make More Money. ...
  5. Don't Give in to Lifestyle Inflation. ...
  6. Get Help if You Need It.

How much money does Elon Musk have right now? ›

Estimated net worth of $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. He is nearly $90 billion ahead of the man in second place, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

At what age did Elon Musk became a billionaire? ›

Musk was 41 in 2012 when he became a billionaire, Insider reported.

Are Elon Musk's parents rich? ›

But he did not acknowledge the part about his upbringing in a rich family. In earlier interviews, Musk had said that his father owned emerald mines in South Africa and that his family owned a private plane.

What companies does Elon Musk own? ›

Elon Musk now owns Twitter, making it the fifth company led by the world's richest man. Musk runs Tesla and SpaceX alongside two smaller start-ups, Neuralink and The Boring Company. From building rockets and brain chips to digging tunnels, here's what all of Musk's companies do.

How much is 1 carat emerald worth? ›

Emeralds can range from less than $1 a carat to $100,000 a carat.

Who owns the largest emerald in the world? ›

The Isabella Emerald, a 964-ct (6.80 oz) cut emerald, is owned by Archeological Discovery Ventures, LLC.

Which country has the best emerald? ›

Colombia has been top provider of the world's finest quality and largest quantity of emerald supplies. Emerald is a medium or darker green to blue-green color gemstone. The color is derived from impurities of chromium, vanadium or a combination of both. Colombian rough emeralds are known for the highest quality.

Does Elon Musk live in rent? ›

HIGHLIGHTS. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he does not a house. Musk revealed that he lives in a rented space near Space X office.

Where is Elon Musk from in Pretoria? ›

Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa to a South African father. He was raised in Pretoria. He attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School, Bryanston High School and Pretoria Boys High School in South Africa. At 12, he sold the code of a video game he created for $500.

Who is Elon Musk wife? ›

Elon Musk

Is South Africa a poor country? ›

The Economy of South Africa is the second largest in Africa and the most industrialized, technologically advanced, and diversified economy in Africa overall. South Africa is an upper-middle-income economy, one of only eight such countries in Africa.

Who owned South Africa? ›

The two European countries who occupied the land were the Netherlands (1652-1795 and 1803-1806) and Great Britain (1795-1803 and 1806-1961). Although South Africa became a Union with its own white people government in 1910, the country was still regarded as a colony of Britain till 1961.

What South Africa is famous for? ›

South Africa, the southernmost country on the African continent, renowned for its varied topography, great natural beauty, and cultural diversity, all of which have made the country a favoured destination for travelers since the legal ending of apartheid (Afrikaans: “apartness,” or racial separation) in 1994.

Did Elon Musk get money from his dad? ›

The world's richest man said he and his brother have bankrolled their father, Errol Musk, since he "ran out of money in the 90s." In a tweet on Wednesday, Elon Musk said: "My brother & I financially supported him & his extended family in South Africa since then on condition that he not do bad things.

Is Elon Musk still South African citizen? ›

Elon Reeve Musk FRS (born June 28, 1971) is a South African-Canadian-American businessman. He was born in South Africa. He moved to Canada and later became an American citizen. Musk is the current CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla, Inc., a company that makes electric vehicles.

Who is the most famous South African? ›

Notable South Africans
  • Nelson Mandela, former President, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1993.
  • Desmond Tutu, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1984.
  • Walter Sisulu.
  • Steve Biko, anti-apartheid activist.

How did Elon Musk get his wealth? ›

Musk's remarkable jump in wealth is linked to his ownership stake in electric car maker Tesla, and to a lesser extent his holdings in ventures including Space X and Boring Company.

What did Elon Musk's father do to him? ›

Did Elon Musk grow up poor? ›

The evidence revealed shows that Elon himself grew up in poverty and deprivation, achieving success only by his own efforts, but with great moral support from his mother, Maye Musk, brother, Kimbal Musk, and sister, Tosca Musk.

What did Elon musks parents do? ›

Elon Musk

How much money does Elon Musk make a day? ›

His net worth in 2022 was calculated to be about $273 billion. This means he makes an average of $432 million per day!

How can I become rich? ›

6 Steps to Become a Millionaire by 30
  1. Start Saving Early. The easiest way to build your savings is to start early. ...
  2. Avoid Unnecessary Spending and Debt. Stop buying things you don't need. ...
  3. Save 15% of Your Income—or More. ...
  4. Make More Money. ...
  5. Don't Give in to Lifestyle Inflation. ...
  6. Get Help if You Need It.

Did Elon Musk grow up rich? ›

Elon Musk was born into a wealthy family in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971. His mother, Maye, is a Canadian dietitian and model, while his father, Errol, is an engineer. While Musk remains close to his mother, his relationship with his father is understood to be strained.

Is Elon Musk the richest person on earth? ›

Estimated net worth of $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg.

Why is Elon estranged from father? ›

Becoming estranged

The final nail in the coffin of their relationship came in 2018 when Errol fathered another child. The child's mother? His 30-year-old stepdaughter, who's 40 years younger than him. Jana Bezuidenhout is the daughter of Errol's ex-wife Heide.

What phone does Elon Musk use? ›

Elon Musk Just RELEASED The Tesla Phone! (RIP iPhones) - YouTube

How much money did Elon start with? ›

It's crazy that he went from basically $0 in 1995 when he started Zip2, to $180 million in just 7 years! Although Elon has made billions of dollars, he considers himself cash-poor.

Does Elon Musk have family money? ›

Elon Musk, the world's richest man, is also the most famous of his family members. But his mum, dad, siblings and ex-wife, who all share the Musk name, also quietly enjoy enormous self-made fortunes. Elon, 51, grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, with parents Errol and Maye.

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