Home Technology The number 420 that got Elon Musk in trouble

The number 420 that got Elon Musk in trouble

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The number 420 that got Elon Musk in trouble

“The number 420 was no joke.”

In a courtroom, before a judge, Elon Musk answered – for the first time in his career – of one of many tweet which he wrote in recent years. A tweet that caused Tesla investors to lose a lot of money. And what time it risks costing the entrepreneur millions or even billions of dollars as well.

In 2018 Elon Musk wrote on Twitter that he was ready to pay Private Tesla for $420 a share. And to be able to count on the money needed to remove from the stock market – in stock market jargon ‘delist’ – the car company of which he was (and still is) CEO. “Funding secured” in fact, Musk had added.

The operation never went through. And now a class-action lawsuit initiated by Tesla investors put Elon Musk in the dock, accused of fraud for his tweets. The value of Tesla shares, that August 7, 2018, increased dramatically, going from $361 to $371.15. But many investors, in the following days, lost money trading Tesla stock based on information Musk shared publicly. Information that was probably unfounded. Or, and this is the worst case scenario, that they were just a game.

In short, a joke. One of the many that Musk has accustomed his followers tousing puns and references to meme and to street culture. The price at which he intended to sell Tesla shares, in particular, had already aroused more than one suspicion in 2018.

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Il number 420pronounced “Four/Twenty”it’s a typical expression of American slang that refers to cannabis. A month after Musk’s tweet, in September 2018, the SEC – the US federal body that supervises the stock markets – denounced the entrepreneur for “false or misleading” information on the privatization of Tesla. In the SEC papers it could be read that Musk wrote $420 in his tweet “because he thought his girlfriend Grimes would find it funny”.

Canadian musician Grimes, who was in a relationship with Musk from 2018 to 2022, indirectly confirmed this theory at the timesending messages to the rapper Azealia Banks – later made public by the latter – in which she stated that “[Elon] he set the price at $420 for a laugh and now the SEC has opened an investigation into him for fraud.

Elon Musk's testimony told by an illustrator who was in the courtroom

Elon Musk’s testimony told by an illustrator who was in the courtroom (reuters)


During his recent testimony released in San Francisco, Musk defended himself by arguing that that price was not “a joke” and that, instead, it corresponded to the real value of Tesla shares at that time plus a 20% (approximately) bonus.

But at the same time the entrepreneur has declared that that number has a meaning for him. “There’s a sort of karma surrounding the number 420,” he told the attorney representing the injured Tesla investors. “At this point – added the entrepreneur – I wonder if it’s good or bad karma”.

“I don’t know if Grimes found it funny or not – said Musk – but the number 420 is not a joke, if anything a coincidence”.

Nevertheless 420 is a recurring number, if you do a quick search among the tweets of the Tesla CEO. Often this series of figures is mentioned in unusual contexts, followed by a winking smiley. Like when, in April 2020, he underlined the number of Starlink satellites operating at that time: 420, in fact.

Or like when, more recently, he shared with his followers a weird percentage: “69.420% of statistics are inaccurate”. 69, due to its references to sex, is another of the numbers often used by Musk for his jokes or his ‘jokes’ on Twitter.

Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the entrepreneur bought Twitter, in late 2022, for $54.20 a share. This too is a coincidence which, judging by the way the business is going, could cost him a lot.

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