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By now, you’re probably aware that Elon Musk is the CEO of Tesla. What you might not know is that one of the richest people on the planet wrecked a million-dollar car that wasn’t even insured. Here’s the story.

Elon Musk’s road to riches

Tesla CEO Elon Musk arrives at the Axel Springer Award ceremony in Berlin, Germany, on Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Tesla CEO Elon Musk | Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz/Bloomberg via Getty Image

Born in  South Africa in 1971, Elon Reeve Musk was raised by his Canadian-born mother, fashion model May Haldeman Musk, and his engineer dad, Errol Graham Musk. Elon perused the entire Encyclopedia Britannica when he was 9 years old, according to his IMDb bio. By the time he was 12, he had invented the videogame Blastar, which he sold for around $500, The Verge reports.

When he was 17, Musk immigrated to Canada to avoid the military service required of young men in apartheid-era South Africa. He got his Canadian citizenship before heading to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned dual degrees in physics and economics.

Afterward, Musk moved to California, where he enrolled at Stanford. His plan was to pursue another degree, but he dropped out after two days and started an internet company with his brother, Kimbal, instead, Biography reports.

With a net worth of around $150 billion as of this writing, Musk is the world’s third-richest person. Only Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tiffany & Co. owner Bernard Arnault are wealthier, according to Forbes.

About Musk’s million-dollar car wreck

After Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq, he used $1 million of the proceeds to purchase a 627-hp McLaren F1 sports car. Capable of attaining speeds in excess of 200 mph, the McLaren was Musk’s everyday ride, which he put an astounding 11,000 miles on the odometer in the first year, The Drive reports.

In 2000, Musk was chauffeuring his friend, investor Peter Thiel, to a business meeting in Palo Alto, California. According to Musk, he “didn’t really know how to drive” the rocket-fast roadster. Nonetheless, when Thiel allegedly asked about the car’s performance, Musk grinned and said, “Watch this.”

Musk put the pedal to the metal and attempted to change lanes at high speed. That’s when the rear wheels flew off, and the car went into a spin. According to The Drive, Musk’s McLaren caught three feet of air before spearing nose-first into an embankment, bouncing off, and spinning some more. Eventually, the 6.1-liter V12 road rocket came to a stop. The car was facing the same direction it had before the wreck, but the windshield was shattered, the wheels were gone, and the suspension was toast. Musk’s first comment after the accident?

“Wow, Peter. That was really intense.”

Musk and Thiel made it to their meeting after hitchhiking the rest of the way.

Who drives a supercar without insurance?

It might seem nonsensical, but Musk drove an uninsured supercar, and it didn’t work out so well. As he told Pando Daily, the McLaren wasn’t insured at the time of the wreck. He didn’t explain why, but The Drive surmises it could be simply that he was so rich he could afford to pay for anything that happened to the car. Remarkably, it wasn’t totaled.

Musk had his McLaren repaired but sold it in 2007. He told Wheels magazine:

“The McLaren is a great car. It’s a work of art, a really beautiful piece of engineering, but I didn’t want people always writing that I have a high-performance gasoline sports car, so I decided to sell it.”


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