Elon Musk exposed his erect penis to a flight attendant employed by SpaceX in 2016 and offered to buy her a horse in exchange for sex, according to allegations in a new report from Insider. The report cites a settlement for $250,000 between SpaceX and the unnamed woman, Insider reports, documentation Gizmodo has not independently verified.
Following news of the scandal breaking Thursday evening, Tesla stock was down more than 9% by 1 pm ET on Friday, significantly outpacing an overall NASDAQ drop of about 2.5%. Tesla stock previously hit a nine-month low at the close of trading Thursday. Gizmodo reached out to Musk for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
Musk, the wealthiest person in the world, reportedly displayed his penis while preparing to receive a massage from the flight attendant as part of her professional duties, according to Insider, which spoke with a source who is friends with the woman. The victim did not reveal the story to Insider herself because she’s under a non-disclosure agreement, according to the news outlet.
The unnamed woman apparently saw her shifts cut back after the incident with Musk and felt that she was being “pushed out” of the company.
The cash settlement between SpaceX and the unnamed woman was entered into in the state of California in 2018, which passed a law that same year making non-disclosure agreements illegal in these types of arrangements. The unnamed woman is presumably still bound by the terms of her NDA, though the friend who spoke to Insider would not be bound by such an agreement.
“Before the incident, she regarded Mr. Musk as a person to look up to,” a written declaration by the woman’s friend says, according to Insider. “But after he exposed himself, touched her without permission, and offered to pay her for sex, she was full of anxiety.”
For his part, Musk pushed back against the story without actually denying the existence of a sexual harassment settlement with an employee. In fact, the Tesla CEO’s statement to Insider included some strange logic.
“If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light,” Musk told Insider.
This statement seems to imply that the 50-year-old billionaire could not have propositioned an employee for sex simply because no other person has ever come forward to the media and described an incident like this about him. Musk did not respond to an email from Gizmodo sent to a Tesla email address, though the company is notoriously hostile to media and doesn’t even have a PR department anymore. Musk eventually explicitly denied the allegations in response to someone’s deleted tweet Friday morning.
Musk, who has faced few consequences for his actions beyond a $20 million SEC fine here and there, also seemed to make light of the incident early Friday, suggesting on Twitter the scandal should be called “Elongate,” seemingly a reference to both his first name and what happens when someone’s penis becomes engorged during sexual arousal.
“Finally, we get to use Elongate as a scandal name,” Musk tweeted overnight.
“It’s kinda perfect,” the tweet reads, ending with a cry-laughing emoji.
Musk also made some cryptic tweets this week about how he was now a full-fledged Republican and that Democrats were trying to damage his reputation. He also tweeted that “political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months,”—a tweet sent just a few hours after Musk was reached for comment by Insider, according to John Cook, the investigations editor at Insider.
Curiously, the article from Insider notes that SpaceX encouraged the woman to take classes to become a professional masseuse, though the space company did not pay for her to develop the new skill. Musk’s companies are notorious for creating hostile work environments, with several lawsuits alleging all kinds of systemic problems—from extreme forms of racism to sexual harassment.
It’s unclear how the latest controversy surrounding Musk may interfere with his business dealings, including his attempt to buy Twitter. The petulant billionaire has tried to buy the company through a hostile takeover, but now seems to be actively trying to sabotage the deal. His latest move to sink the deal involves claiming that he only wants to buy Twitter if the company can prove less than 5% of users are bots. This is a bizarre thing to claim, of course, since one of Musk’s stated reasons for buying the company was to rid the platform of bots.
But, again, Musk has never had to pay a real price for any of his actions. When you’re the richest person in the world, $250,000 is chump change. Allegedly, of course.
Updated Friday, May 20 2022 at 1:04 pm ET with new details. Kyle Barr contributed reporting to this story.