Elon Musk's Model Mom Maye Knew Her Billionaire Son Was a Genius When He Was 3

Maye Musk told her son to focus on one industry, but "of course he didn't listen to me"

Maye Musk, Elon Musk's mother, knew the Tesla and SpaceX founder was destined for greatness when he was a young boy.

While promoting her new memoir A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success on CBS This Morning Monday, the 72-year-old model and registered dietician-nutritionist spoke about how her eldest son — who currently ranks as the second richest person in the world — showed signs of brilliance at 3 years old.

"Well at 3, I knew he was a genius, but you still don't know if he's going to do great things," Maye said of Elon, 49. "Because many geniuses end up in a basement being a genius but not applying it. So I was so excited when he started Zip2 because it just made life easier with door-to-door directions and then newspapers could have a link that took you to a restaurant. I know that's common now, but that was highly unusual and people didn't believe that that's possible, and so that's why I invested in that at the very beginning."

Maye continued, "And then of course he thought the banking system needed some some help, so then he did PayPal. And then after that, he thought, well, should he do space research or solar energy or electric cars? I said just choose one, and of course he didn't listen to me."

Maye — who is also mom to son Kimbal, 48, and daughter Tosca, 46, with ex-husband Errol Musk — said that Elon took his brilliance a step further at age 12, when he created a computer game all on his own.

"I showed it to the university engineering students and they said, 'Wow, he knows all the shortcuts,' " the mother of three recalled. "So I said to him, 'Well you should submit this to a magazine,' and he did and then he got 500,000 grand, which was like $500. I don't think they knew he was 12."

Last week, Elon announced that he would donate $100 million "towards a prize" for designing effective carbon capture technology. He initially asked his Twitter followers on Jan. 7 for "critical feedback" and ways to "donate money that really make a difference."

Then, on Jan. 21, he said in a follow-up tweet, "Am donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology."

Elon's tweet announcing the $100 million prize garnered a lot of attention on social media. Many of the replies accurately pointed out that planting trees is already a great way to naturally lower carbon dioxide in the air, though Elon — known for his game-changing Tesla electric cars and reusable SpaceX rockets — seems focused on revolutionary technology.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk. Jeff Vespa/WireImage

In December, Elon revealed that he moved to Texas after months of sparring with local officials in California over COVID-19 lockdown orders.

Both Tesla and SpaceX have operations in Texas; a new Tesla factory outside of Austin is in the works, while SpaceX has a launch site in Cameron County.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Elon also filed paperwork in late October to move his personal foundation from California to Austin.

"If a team has been winning for too long, they do tend to get a little complacent, a little entitled and then they don't win the championship anymore. California has been winning for too long," Elon said at the WSJ's CEO Council annual summit last month, according to CNBC. "And I think they're taking them for granted a little bit."

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