Out Of Every Controversial Elon Musk Moment, One Stands Above The Rest

Elon Musk may be one of the richest men in the world, but he is also one of the more controversial. While working for him can be quite an intense and intimidating experience, as you would expect from the man behind Tesla Motors and SpaceX, there are also times when he doesn't exactly conduct himself like your typical multi-billionaire businessman. As noted by Indy100, Musk has often been described as a "troll" and an "edgelord," what with his penchant for posting memes and making off-beat comments on social media. It's also hard to count the number of times he's missed projections on Tesla deliveries and other key targets as a business executive.

Trying to determine a controversial moment that stands out in the many years Musk has been a leading public figure can be quite tricky. One can mention his widely-panned guest appearance as himself on "The Simpsons," but longtime fans of the animated series know that "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" was, at the time, just the latest in an ever-growing number of contenders for the Worst. Episode. Ever. You could also bring up the name of his first child with Canadian musician Grimes, but celebrities tend to give their kids all sorts of unusual names — "X Æ A-12" just so happened to top them all. Or what about the time he smoked pot on Joe Rogan's podcast? Some nice memes came out of it, but apparently, he wasn't actually inhaling.

With all that in mind, none of those moments raised as many eyebrows as the one we shall be discussing below. Spoiler alert — it also has something to do with the world of entertainment.

Elon Musk says Elon Musk things as SNL host

On the May 8, 2021, episode of "Saturday Night Live," Elon Musk appeared as the venerable late-night show's guest host, and the Tesla co-founder was right on brand for most of the night. During the show, he addressed some of the above-mentioned controversies — his and Grimes' choice for their son's name and his attempts to smoke the devil's lettuce on "The Joe Rogan Experience." On the former, he joked that "X Æ A-12" is pronounced "cat running across keyboard" (fair point, as most cat owners can attest to), and on the latter, he suggested that smoking weed on Rogan's podcast was the "dumbest thing [he] ever did." Oh, he also made an O.J. Simpson joke while at it,  well over two decades after those jokes went out of style.

Additionally, Musk talked about his tendency to post head-scratching remarks on social media. "To anyone I've offended, I just want to say 'I reinvented electric cars and I'm sending people to Mars in a rocket ship, did you also think I was going to be a chill, normal dude?" he quipped, as quoted by The Guardian.

It was an "SNL" episode where Musk also hyped up his vision for a future with renewable energy and a "multi-planetary" civilization (via Entertainment Weekly), among other things, but when the dust had settled, there were controversies aplenty for the billionaire to deal with. 

Musk made a false claim about being a first in SNL history

While delivering his opening monologue on "Saturday Night Live," Elon Musk dropped an interesting bombshell on viewers, revealing that he was the first host in the show's history with Asperger's syndrome. As explained by WebMD, the condition is now considered a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, where those who have it may appear outwardly "normal" but have difficulty picking up on social cues, show little to no emotion in certain situations, fail to consistently make eye contact while talking to people, and focus on topics they like with unusual levels of intensity. That could explain a number of aspects of Musk's personality, but it wasn't his Asperger's reveal per se that got people talking. Rather, it was the fact that he was not the first person with the condition to host an episode of "SNL."

To be fair, Musk didn't seem to knowingly spread such misinformation. "I'm actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger's to host 'SNL '— or at least the first to admit it," he said. However, The Daily Beast correctly clarified that former "SNL" cast member Dan Aykroyd has Asperger's and that he did, in fact, appear as a guest host way back in 2003. 

Musk's appearance roiled a cryptocurrency market ... and cost him a fortune

Is there anyone else out there whose appearance on a late-night show could cause so much financial chaos? That was another consequence of Elon Musk's "Saturday Night Live" hosting gig, which saw him introduce his mother Maye to viewers and give her Dogecoin as a Mother's Day present. For those unaware, Dogecoin is a form of cryptocurrency that is arguably right up Musk's alley in terms of inspiration — it started out as a joke and was named after the popular "Doge" meme featuring an adorable Shiba Inu and his internal monologue.

"It's the future of currency," Musk said when asked to explain what Dogecoin is, per The Guardian. "It's an unstoppable financial vehicle that's going to take over the world." After "SNL" mainstay Michael Che inquired whether the cryptocurrency is a "hustle," Musk responded in the affirmative. That single comment caused Dogecoin's value to drop a whopping 28% within just a few hours' time, falling from $0.65 before the show to $0.47 while Musk's "SNL" episode was airing. 

Alas, it wasn't just Dogecoin that took a hit in the aftermath of the episode. According to Forbes, Tesla shares fell 15% in the days immediately following Musk's "Saturday Night Live" appearance, making him over $20 billion poorer in the process. Granted, it was a comparative drop in the bucket, as the publication pointed out that even with the substantial loss, Musk was still about $110 billion richer than he was the previous year.

Musk didn't address certain elephants in the room

Sure, Elon Musk admitted in his own way that his social media activity can be more than a little bizarre. He covered a lot of ground on "Saturday Night Live," and while he lost a lot of money after his turn as the show's host, he was mostly funny, engaging, and entertaining. However, Dean Obeidallah wrote in a CNN op-ed that Musk failed to address a number of past controversies, including one that was particularly timely — his remarks downplaying the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Obeidallah, Musk had the perfect chance to touch on his COVID-19 comments and apologize for them, even in a joking way. However, he apparently chose not to, despite how his "irresponsible comments and actions had a real-world negative consequence on people's lives." The CNN contributor gave a few examples, including Musk's description of pandemic restrictions as "fascist" and his decision to reopen Tesla's Fremont, California, facility in May 2020 — a move that resulted in over 400 employees testing positive for COVID-19 in the seven months that followed. Likewise, Musk didn't directly reference his tweets in December 2020 where he seemed to mock people who include their preferred pronouns on their social media profiles and later called transgender pronouns an "esthetic nightmare." 

Overall, Obeidallah concluded that Musk was, through his "SNL" guest spot, telling his millions of social media followers that "this type of conduct is acceptable in our society."