Elon Musk has worked hard to become filthy rich, but he certainly came from humble beginnings. The CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX taught himself how to program computers at just 10 years old and sold a software game he created, when he was 12, for $500. Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa and moved to Canada to attend college. It was at Queen's University in Ontario where he decided to take a radical step in order to sharpen his entrepreneurial spirit.
Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied business and physics. He told popular astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, that he basically lived off of nothing but hot dogs and oranges at one point. Elon decided he wanted to conduct an experiment and find out if he could live off of a $30 food budget per month, to see if he had what it would take to be an entrepreneur. Musk only allowed himself to spend about a dollar per day – and was actually able to follow through. He bought lots of oranges and hot dogs in bulk and occasionally splurged for pasta and tomato sauce.
In the interview with Tyson, Musk said "I mean, in America it's pretty easy to keep yourself alive, so my threshold for existing was pretty low. I figured I could be in some cheap apartment with my computer and be okay, and not starve. So I was like, 'Oh, okay. If I can live for a dollar a day – at least from a food cost standpoint – it's pretty easy to earn $30 dollars in a month, so I'll probably be ok."
His experiment turned out to be a success and Musk himself would go on to become one of the most successful people in the world. After graduating from Pennsylvania, he started working on his PhD at Stanford University, but dropped out to take advantage of the Internet boom. Musk formed his first company Zip2 which he sold at 28 years old for $307 million in cash and another $34 million in stock options.
Elon Musk would go on to help create PayPal, which was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion worth of stock in 2002 (Musk made $165 million on the transaction). The same year he founded Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, which was awarded a contract in association with the International Space Station by NASA. Musk co-founded Tesla Motors in 2003 and the company raised $226 million during its IPO in 2010. In 2013 he would release the concept for the Hyperloop, a new form of transportation said to be able to travel 700 miles per hour. As if all of that was not enough, Musk is also the chairman of the largest installer of solar panels in the United States, SolarCity.
As of November 2015, Elon Musk has amassed a net worth of $12.9 billion! He was ranked as the 14th richest CEO in the world and just barely missed the list of Top 100 Richest People in the World. As the CEO of Tesla Motors, Musk only elects to take the minimum required salary of $37 thousand a year and he declines stock awards, bonuses, and any other type of compensation. With a net worth of almost $13 billion, Elon Musk could probably afford to buy every single orange in the world.