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Elon Musk’s model mother Maye knew he was a genius at age three

Elon Musk is now the richest person in the world with a net worth of $187 billion, and while his mother Maye Musk realized he was a genius when he was a child, she has admitted that she didn’t always know if the SpaceX CEO was destined for greatness. 

The 72-year-old model was promoting the paperback release of her book A Woman Makes a Plan on CBS This Morning on Monday when she detailed how her children Elon, 49,  Kimbal, 48, and Tosca, 46, discovered their passions at a young age.  

‘At three, I knew [Elon] was a genius,’ Maye told hosts Gayle King and Anthony Mason, ‘but you still don’t know if he’s going to do great things because many geniuses just end up in a basement being a genius but not applying it.’ 

Proud mom: Maye Musk, 72, opened up about her three children, Elon, 49, Kimbal, 48, and Tosca, 46, while appearing on CBS This Morning on Monday 

Proud: While Elon (center) is the richest man in the world with net worth of $187 billion, Kimbal (far right) founded a chain of farm-to-table restaurants and Tosca (far left) is a filmmaker

Proud: While Elon (center) is the richest man in the world with net worth of $187 billion, Kimbal (far right) founded a chain of farm-to-table restaurants and Tosca (far left) is a filmmaker

The proud mom recalled how her eldest son made a computer program game when he was 12 years old that impressed a group of college engineering students.

‘They said, “Wow, he knows all the shortcuts,”‘ she said of showing them the game. 

Maye suggested that young Elon submit the game to a magazine, and he did, earning himself $500.   

‘I don’t think they knew that he was 12,’ she said. ‘So that was a good start.’

One of Elon’s first business ventures the software company Zip2, which he co-founded with his brother, Kimbal, and Greg Kouri with funds from a group of angel investors, including his mother.   

Looking back: Maye said each of their children found their individual passions at an early age while growing up in South Africa

Looking back: Maye said each of their children found their individual passions at an early age while growing up in South Africa 

Memories: Maye said she knew Elon was a genius when he was just three years old, but she wasn't always sure he was destined for greatness

Memories: Maye said she knew Elon was a genius when he was just three years old, but she wasn’t always sure he was destined for greatness 

‘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,’ Maye recalled. 

‘I know that’s common now, but that was highly unusual and people didn’t believe that’s possible. So that’s why I invested in that at the very beginning — although I didn’t have much money.’ 

‘Then he thought the banking system needed some help, so he did PayPal,’ Maye continued. ‘Then after that, he said, “Well, should he do space research or solar energy or electric cars?” And I said, “Just choose one,” and, of course, he didn’t listen to me.’

When asked if she owns a Tesla, Maye said, “Of course, [Elon] gets me the best.’ 

Elon and his parter Grimes welcomed their son X Æ A-Xii in May. He also shares five children with his first wife Justine, whom he split from in 2008. They have 17-year-old twin sons, Griffin and Xavier, and 15-year-old triplets, Kai, Saxon, and Damian.  

Budding engineer: Maye recalled how Elon made a computer program game when he was 12 that he received $500 for after submitting it to a magazine

Budding engineer: Maye recalled how Elon made a computer program game when he was 12 that he received $500 for after submitting it to a magazine

Supportive: The model said she invested in Elon's company Zip2 in 1995, recalling how  she was 'so excited' when he cofounded the software company with Kimbal and Greg Kouri

Supportive: The model said she invested in Elon’s company Zip2 in 1995, recalling how  she was ‘so excited’ when he cofounded the software company with Kimbal and Greg Kouri

Elon may be the eldest and most famous of her children, but his siblings are equally remarkable. His brother, Kimbal, founded a chain of farm-to-table restaurants and his sister, Tosca, is a filmmaker.  

Their career choices are no surprise to their mother, who watched them pursue their passions from an early age while they were growing up in Pretoria, South Africa. 

Maye admitted that Kimbal started cooking because he didn’t like the food she made when they were growing up. 

‘I’m not a great cook, so that’s why he has restaurants,’ she explained. ‘He also does vegetable gardens in underserved schools because he feels children should always have vegetables and fruit.’ 

‘And then, of course, Tuska was in the movies,’ the mother of three continued. ‘She just loved every movie, remembered every one, and she wanted to get into the movie business, which I discouraged a lot, of course. 

‘Who wants to be in the movie business?’ she said with a laugh. ‘And now she has her own platform, Passionflix. They are all doing the work that they loved doing.’

Maye is just as impressive as her children, having found her greatest success as a model in her sixties and seventies. She made history in 2018 when she became the face of CoverGirl at the age of 69, and her modeling career continues to thrive.  

‘My mother never had a problem with age,’ she recalled. ‘Nobody could tell her she was getting old. She did retire at 96, but before that, she never spoke about wrinkles or getting old or anything. 

‘She was just always positive and always learning, educating herself, and I guess that’s a good example,’ she continued. ‘As I got into my sixties, people were talking about aging and being scared of aging, and I was saying, “Why are you scared of aging?”‘

Maye noted that when women turn 50, they are ‘afraid of losing their jobs, but men at that age ‘become CEOs and presidents.’  

‘So what’s that about?’ she asked. ‘We need to change that around. If somebody is making you feel bad about your age, just say goodbye.’ 


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