Elon Musk denies 420 tweets were about weed
When Elon Musk was questioned about a 420 tweet in a California court on Monday, he suddenly forgot the meaning of the number in pot culture. The tech billionaire reacted after he was cornered by a prosecutor representing Tesla employees over a class action lawsuit alleging he tweeted and misled shareholders about the price of Tesla shares.
The fiasco began a few years ago. In 2018, Musk rounded up Tesla shares from $419 to $420 and announced his plan to go private in a tweet. “Considering taking Tesla privately for $420,” Musk tweeted on Aug. 7, 2018. “Funding secured.” — which sent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) officials reeling.
I’m considering taking Tesla private for $420. financing secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
Musk said he tweeted the stock price based on a “firm commitment” from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) to privatize Tesla. But about 10 days later, Musk admitted that the Tesla buyout he had envisioned would not materialize.
After an investigation, the SEC fined Musk $40 million and forced the billionaire to resign as Tesla’s CEO. The SEC said Musk misled investors. The SEC’s complaint accused Musk of rounding up the stock price from $419 to $420 “because he recently learned of the importance of the number in the marijuana culture.”
About a month later, Musk caused instant furor when he delivered a blunt punch on his show “The Joe Rogan Experience” with Joe Rogan on September 3, 2018, shocking Tesla investors and officials across the board. His troubles didn’t end there. High Times asked if it was “the most expensive blunt ever” due to the fallout, with NASA and SpaceX-affiliated officials reviewing its security clearance.
The Verge reports that Nicholas Porritt is an attorney for a class of Tesla investors who are suing Musk for millions of dollars they say resulted from his failure to take Tesla private.
The courtroom grew tense: “You rounded up to 420 because you thought that was a joke your girlfriend would like, didn’t you?” asked Porritt. “No,” Musk said, adding, “I think there’s some karma around 420. I should ask myself at this point if this is good or bad karma.”
Musk said that 420 wasn’t a marijuana joke, but rather a roughly 20% premium to the company’s $419 stock price at the time. “420 wasn’t picked for a joke,” Musk testified. “It was chosen because there was a 20 percent premium to the stock price.” Musk also claimed it was a “coincidence.”
The jury will decide whether Musk should pay Tesla shareholders billions in damages for the money they lost from his tweets.
Judge Edward Chen ruled that the jury should be clear that Musk’s 2018 tweets are false. A jury must now decide whether Musk misled Tesla shareholders over his tweets.
Musk said he wasn’t counting on a commitment for the Saudi PIF as he tweeted “funding secured,” adding that his shares in SpaceX would also help fund the deal to make Tesla private. “Like I sold Tesla stock to buy Twitter…I didn’t want to sell Tesla stock, but I sold Tesla stock,” Musk said. “My SpaceX stock alone would have meant funding was secured.”
Musk was also sued by a group of former Twitter employees following a mass layoff. Musk recently became CEO of Twitter after buying the platform for $44 billion in October 2022. Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz is Twitter’s second largest shareholder after Musk.