Check out these obscure and intriguing facts about Elon Musk.

1. He sold his first invention at age 12

MILAN, ITALY - MARCH 30: Kid plays vintage video games at Robot and Makers Milano Show, event dedicated to robotics and makers on MARCH 30, 2014 in Milan.
Tinxi / Shutterstock
Musk designed a video game when he was just 12.

While others his age were playing video games, young Elon Musk was coding his own, according to Entrepreneur magazine. In 1984, he sold his game, Blastar, to a computer magazine for $500.

The game was fairly simple, and its objective was to blow up an alien ship filled with weapons of mass destruction.

In recent years, Musk has called the game "trivial" but says it was better than Flappy Bird, the super-popular mobile game that went big in 2013.

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2. He's the original Iron Man

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APR 3, 2016: Iron Man at the Shanghai Madame Tussauds wax museum. Marie Tussaud was born as Marie Grosholtz in 1761
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock
Robert Downey Jr. reportedly modeled his Iron Man character after Musk.

Though the Iron Man comic book character debuted decades ago, the movie adaptation has drawn a ton of inspiration from Elon Musk’s personality and work.

Hollywood's Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., reportedly asked to meet with Musk while he was preparing for the first film so he could have a better idea of what a real Tony Stark-style entrepreneur is like.

Musk gave the actor a tour of the SpaceX headquarters, and Downey said he picked up on a few of Musk’s "accessible eccentricities." Musk's SpaceX factory was later used as a location for Iron Man 2.

3. He once lived on $1 a day

Human hand and empty wallet - broke
lOvE lOvE / Shutterstock
Musk was just scraping by after he moved to Canada from his native South Africa.

When he first left his native South Africa at 17, Musk found his way to Canada and had no place to call home. So, he lived with various cousins, floating from one house to the next, reports The New Yorker.

He has said he often had only $1 a day to spend on food.

He lived primarily on hot dogs and oranges. Though nutritionists may roll their eyes, Musk probably considered that a diet heavy in protein and vitamin C.

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4. He opened a frat house 'nightclub'

Plastic red party cups in a row in a nightclub full of people dancing on the dance floor in the background.
Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

Musk stayed in Canada for three years, then left to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Money was still an issue, so when he and a Penn classmate were running short on cash, they opened a night club — in their frat house.

They attracted up to 1,000 people to the house and raised enough money to pay their rent.

The classmate, Adeo Ressi, also went on to become a major success in the tech industry. He remembers that although Musk organized the partying, he didn’t participate. Instead, he’d just play video games in his room.

5. He’s a dropout

leaving
Terence / Shutterstock
Musk left Stanford after just two days.

Yes, Elon Musk did finish that first degree at Penn. But when he enrolled in a master’s program to study physics at Stanford, he quickly realized that the internet had far more potential to change the world.

He quit the program after just two days to start a new company called Zip2, which provided maps and online city guides for news media websites.

Next, he co-founded an online payments site called X.com — which would later become PayPal. It was only a matter of time before Musk would launch SpaceX, and then Tesla.

6. He owns a James Bond car

London, England - October 11, 2012: James Bond 007 Personalised Number Plate on a Sports Car
Lenscap Photography / Shutterstock

In 2013, Musk was revealed as the secret buyer in a London auction who paid nearly $1 million for the Lotus Esprit "Wet Nellie," the underwater car from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me.

Reportedly, Musk really wanted to make the 1976 movie prop an operating submarine car, but he tweeted in 2017 that it wasn't doable.

He says he would like to create a car design with Tesla technology that would make underwater vehicles a reality.

7. His companies almost went bankrupt

Team businessman with chart in the fall. economy or stock market going down.
boonchoke / Shutterstock
Musk's empire was close to bankruptcy in 2008.

Although Musk is now reportedly worth around $20 billion and Tesla and SpaceX are raging successes, his road to prosperity was had some serious financial bumps.

In 2008, his companies were running out of money and were hovering just a few days away from bankruptcy.

Luckily, a $1.6 billion contract from NASA came through at the last minute, saving Musk's empire. He reportedly cried when he got the news about the contract.

8. He really wants to take people to Mars

Silhouette of the Astronaut Standing on the Rocky Mountain of the Alien Red Planet/ Mars. First Manned Mission on Mars. Space Exploration, Colonization.
Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock
Musk is completely serious about wanting to take people to Mars.

Elon Musk has claimed that he will be the first private citizen to get to Mars — and he’s dead serious. The ultimate goal of his spacecraft company SpaceX is to colonize the red planet.

He originally wanted to send mice or plants to Mars and was looking to buy a rocket to launch them on. When existing rockets proved too expensive, he founded SpaceX to build his own.

Why the obsession with Mars? Musk says he wants to increase humanity's chances of survival in our universe, even if Earth doesn't make it — presumably because we’ll destroy our planet with terrible decisions.

9. He owns 5 mansions in Bel Air

Scattered houses on one of the hills of Bel Air neighborhood, Los Angeles, California
Sundry Photography / Shutterstock

In 2012, Musk paid $17 million for his mansion and home base in the ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air.

The next year, he bought another home nearby for almost $7 million. That one had once been owned by Willy Wonka star Gene Wilder. Musk turned it into a private school for his kids.

The school has the fitting name “Ad Astra,” which is Latin for "to the stars." There are no traditional grades, but the curriculum must be out of this world!

Since 2013, Musk has bought another three mansions in Bel Air. He has spent about $72 million on homes in the community.

10. He genuinely fears a Terminator-style Skynet

abstract robot humanoid on link high tech background in machine learning concept
Kawin Ounprasertsuk / Shutterstock

Remember when the computers took over the world in The Terminator?

Given his experience in the unstoppable tech sector and penchant for forward thinking, Musk really believes that artificial intelligence poses a threat to humanity, just as the Skynet AI system did in the movie.

His solution? Put computer chips in people’s brains to fend off a possible attack. Musk has founded a nonprofit called OpenAI to research ways so robots don't kill us all. Maybe he knows something we don’t?

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About the Author

Esther Trattner

Esther Trattner

Freelance Contributor

Esther was formerly a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

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