A common point of contention on the internet these days is Elon Musk’s money and how he chooses to use it.
In 2022, he spent $44 billion on Twitter, despite clearly knowing he was overpaying. In the year since, he’s been pretty upfront about his buyer’s remorse. “How do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one,” Elon joked in November last year, and this was hardly his only tweet of the sort.
To anyone stressed out about money, it can be agonizing to think of what better things those $44 billion could’ve gone towards.
A tiny fraction of it could improve the average person’s life to an almost unimaginable degree, and Musk spent it all on something he didn’t even seem to want.
How much money does Elon Musk make a second?
In other words, Elon’s net worth went up an average of about $2,378 per second during that three-year period. That’s $142,680 a minute, or $8,560,800 an hour. If he went to bed for eight hours, he’d wake up the next morning to find himself $68,486,400 richer.
Of course, there isn’t a vault somewhere with 2,000 or so dollar bills getting thrown into it every single second; the majority of Musk’s money is tied up in the companies he owns.
“Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere,” he tweeted in November 2021. “I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.” The reason why he pays surprisingly little in income taxes is because he technically isn’t getting much of an income, although the wealthy have been known to live extravagantly off of loans based on their net worth.
Musk’s financial situation is complicated even further by how he can’t typically sell his stocks on a whim.
Insiders to any American corporation must announce ahead of time exactly when and how much they plan to sell, and make clear that they aren’t basing this decision on any knowledge not yet disclosed to the public. Legalities aside, selling too many shares can also lower public confidence in the company, and will decrease the seller’s own power within it.
There’s also the complication that much of Elon’s net worth is based on an illusion, as is sort of the case for anyone owning shares in a publicly traded company, but more so with Musk, who has been accused of using his own publicity to manipulate his stock.
His net worth fluctuates wildly depending on the perceived values of the companies he owns, which is why after first announcing he was buying Twitter last year, his net worth declined by about $200 billion within fourteen months.
As vast as his current $250 billion net worth is, it’s slightly less impressive when you remember he had $340 billion in November 2021.
Using the same math above, one can make the argument that Elon has been losing $1,500 per second for nearly the past two years. Then again, this number isn’t real in the same way the money in the average person’s bank account is real.
Make no mistake: Musk is still extremely rich, and he could be doing a lot more to help people.
Like when he pledged to end world hunger then did nothing.
As Vox senior reporters Kelsey Piper and Sigal Samuel argued in response to Elon’s public request for donating advice, the key things a big donor like Elon should look for are issues that are neglected, tractible, and wide-spanning. “In some cases (like climate change), a cause may be benefiting from significant funding,” they wrote, “but specific approaches and lines of research are underfunded, making them promising targets for donation.”
While any sort of claim about how much Elon makes a second is frivolous, with the number varying wildly depending on when you start and stop counting, $250 billion is still an unimaginably excessive amount of wealth.