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These are Elon Musk's most absurd publicity stunts

Twitter isn't the only way Musk makes a fool of himself.

Elon Musk is known for a lot of things that aren't necessarily related to his acumen as an entrepreneur. For example: saying highly questionable things on Twitter, or espousing bonkers theories about the world being a simulation, or... did we mention the Twitter stuff?

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Musk's eccentricities show up in places outside of just social media too — like the marketing tactics of his various companies. That willingness to skirt convention has lead to some of the wildest and most eye-roll-inducing publicity stunts in recent memory.

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Not a Flamethrower

This spicy little gadget is the handiwork of Musk's Boring Company and despite its name (Not a Flamethrower), this piece of stunt merchandise is most definitely a flamethrower. According to the Boring Company's website, more than 20,000 of these have been sold. After a report from TechCrunch, the (definitely) flamethrowers have resurfaced in the news with plenty of anecdotes about them showing up in drug busts and causing a legal headache for the company.

"Buy an overpriced Boring Company fire extinguisher! You can definitely buy one for less elsewhere, but this one comes with a cool sticker and the button is conveniently riiiight above."

Boring Company

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Short-shorts

In Musk's approach to publicity, things seem to escalate from joke to reality fairly quickly, which is exactly what happened with these Tesla-branded pair of short-shorts. Aside from being skimpy Tesla merch, these shorts were also designed as a jab at Wall Street investors who shorted the company's stock (and a list of the four models of Tesla currently on sale). The shorts were in short supply (sorry) leaving many super fans unable to snag a pair.

Tesla Tequila

We've got a scenario for you: you're doing marketing for a major automotive brand, and you're trying to come up with a novelty crossover product for your true fans. Hesitantly, in a pitch meeting, you raise your hand and suggest *drum roll* premium-priced branded liquor. Tesla Tequila: because what could go better with driving than drinking?

$250

The original asking price for a 750 ml bottle of Tesla Tequila.

A pig named Gertrude

In 2019 Elon Musk turned to live animals to help show off one of the entrepreneur's more experimental start-ups, Neuralink. To illustrate the capabilities of Neuralink's brain chips, they implanted several pigs with a device that reads signals in their brains and paraded them around on a webcast. This might be a less straightforward entry into the wacky Musk Hall of Fame since it was more of a demonstration, but using pigs as PR definitely fits Musk's MO.

Neuralink

Starman

Sending a Tesla into space is the kind of bonkers stunt you get when an eccentric automotive entrepreneur is also an eccentric aerospace entrepreneur. In February 2018, Musk launched "Starman" — an astronaut-like dummy — into orbit aboard a Tesla Roadster attached to SpaceX's Heavy Falcon rocket playing a David Bowie song of the same name on repeat. Is the stunt excessive? Yes. Could it exacerbate a growing array of space junk? Yes. Am I supposed to end this string of rhetorical questions with a positive? Usually.

And who could forget...

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Cybersmash

In the pantheon of marketing stunts gone wrong, there are few better than the moment team Tesla destroyed an allegedly "impervious" glass window on the company's upcoming Cybertruck. During the stunt, Musk lobbed a giant metal ball at the window expecting it to withstand the blow, but instead, the stunt created two massive craters on both front and rear windows. To make matters worse, he then had to give the rest of the presentation with the cybercracks glaringly obvious behind him.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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