Musk Says He’s Sold Enough Tesla Stock to Meet Target, Slams ‘Wokeness’ and California’s ‘Overtaxation’

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
December 22, 2021 Updated: December 22, 2021

Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested he’s done selling shares in the world’s most valuable car company, saying in an interview released Dec. 21 that he had sold “enough stock” to hit his goal of liquidating 10 percent of his Tesla stake.

In a wide-ranging interview with satirical website Babylon Bee, the tech billionaire took aim at cancel culture, downplayed the buzz around the “metaverse,” built on his earlier criticism of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) over her remarks that he was a “freeloader” that didn’t pay his fair share of taxes, and slammed California for “overtaxation.”

“California used to be the land of opportunity and now it is… becoming more so the land of sort of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation,” he said in the interview, adding that it is “increasingly difficult to get things done” in the state.

Musk recently moved Tesla’s headquarters from California to Texas after making the Lone Star state his personal home last year after his earlier feud with California authorities over pandemic-related shutdown orders.

Musk said on Nov. 6 that he would sell 10 percent of his Tesla stock holdings if Twitter users agreed. Since Musk started offloading his Tesla shares, which had hovered near record-highs, they have lost about a quarter of the value.

On Dec. 21, Musk sold another 583,611 shares, bringing the total number of shares he has offloaded to 13.5 million, which is around 80 percent of what he had planned to sell.

“I sold enough stock to get to around 10 percent plus the option exercise stuff and I tried to be extremely literal here,” he told the Babylon Bee.

When asked whether he sold the stock because of the Twitter poll, he said he needed to exercise stock options that are expiring next year “no matter what.” Out of the 13.5 million shares sold, 8.06 million were sold to pay taxes related to his options exercise.

Musk was asked about his feud with Warren, who in a Twitter post called for changes to the “rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else,” which came after Musk was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

Musk said on Sunday on Twitter that he would pay more than $11 billion in taxes this year.

“She did actually call me a freeloader and a grifter who doesn’t pay taxes,” Musk told the Babylon Bee.

“I’m literally paying the most tax that any individual in history has ever paid this year, ever, and she doesn’t pay taxes, basically. And her taxes and salary is paid for by the taxpayer like me. If you could die by irony, she would be dead,” Musk added.

Musk also took aim at cancel culture, calling “wokeness” a “mind virus” that could become “arguably one of the biggest threats to modern civilization.”

He also addressed the hype around the metaverse, saying it “sounds just kind of buzzwordy” and that he doesn’t think its use case is all that compelling.

“I think we’re far from disappearing into the metaverse,” Musk said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'