The Independent writes:

As a result of this, the teenage Elon Musk once walked the streets of New York with emeralds in his pocket. His father said: “We were very wealthy. We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe,” adding that one person would have to hold the money in place with another closing the door. “And then there’d still be all these notes sticking out and we’d sort of pull them out and put them in our pockets.”

Elon Musk writes on X:

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?

What's the truth? Was Elon Musk bankrolled by his father or did he work his way through college with student debt?

  • 6
    So his father was so rich he couldn't afford a large enough safe to put it? Commented Jan 11 at 23:34
  • 1
    @WeatherVane Better question someone that rich was so stupid as to put money in a safe rather then a bank or investing it? And didn't care to keep track of his money well enough to know who walked off with how much money or that he could just exchange mall bills for big. The whole concept of a safe stuffed full of excess money is absurd.
    – dsollen
    Commented Jan 17 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


In 2022, Snopes did an investigation - rather thorough for them - looking at the variety of claims and the evidence.

They found some stories about Errol Musk buying a part share in an emerald mine in the mid-80s (bought after selling his share of a plane in Zambia). Errol Musk claims the scheme collapsed about six years later in the late 1980s.

Snopes quotes Elon Musk and Errol Musk extensively, and concludes:

A story about Musk's father once owning an emerald mine evolved into a larger rumor that had no evidence to support its central claim.

That is, there is no evidence that Elon Musk's initial wealth was seeded in a large part by a rich father who made a fortune from emeralds. (A smaller investment is noted by Elon Musk.)

  • 4
    You spoke to the emerald mind, but that is only half the question. Anyone rich enough to be sellng planes and buying emeralds mines - even if temporarily - seems like they would be rich enough to pay for musk's college even if that money wasn't due to emeralds. Is there any evidence that musk really did end up having to pay off a 100K student loan?
    – dsollen
    Commented Jan 17 at 15:47
  • 1
    @dsollen: We have statements from Elon Musk saying he paid his own way, and we have Snopes saying there is no evidence to support that Errol Musk paid for it.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Jan 17 at 16:59
  • My quick scanning of the snoopes article shows it discuss the emerald mine, but not rather or not musk paid his way through college. It's possible I missed it but then again you should have a summary in your answer that touches on such things if I have missed it and your answer says nothing about it. The question asked was "Was Elon Musk bankrolled by his father or did he work his way through college with student debt?" you gave a detailed answer to rather or not his father owned an emerald mine and never directly answered the actual question OP asked.
    – dsollen
    Commented Jan 17 at 17:14
  • 1
    This also stinks of some sort of anti-musk vendetta. The mines in South Africa are mostly done by multinational corporations. Any South African is free to open an online share trading account at any bank and buy shares in any mining company. Doing so technically making you own a small part of a mine.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jan 17 at 17:28
  • 1
    IDK why people would think owning shares of URA Holdings the company that bought the rights to Gravelotte Emerald mine in 2023 would be so extraordinary.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Jan 17 at 17:30

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