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Elon Musk is the third-richest person in the world — at least for the moment.
Musk passed Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg Monday as shares of Tesla continued their unrelenting rally after undergoing a forward stock split. As of 2:22 p.m., Musk was worth $111.9 billion compared with $111.2 billion for Zuckerberg, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which is updated at the end of each market day.
Musk has seen a meteoric rise in his wealth, with his net worth growing by $76.1 billion this year as Tesla shares surged more than 475%. Also helpful: an audacious pay package — the largest corporate pay deal ever struck between a chief executive officer and a board of directors — that could yield him more than $50 billion if all goals are met.
Tesla, a favorite among amateur investors on online trading firm Robinhood Financial, has been one of the largest beneficiaries of the boom in retail investing during pandemic lockdowns. At one point last month, almost 40,000 Robinhood accounts added Tesla shares during a single four-hour span. And the trend isn’t limited to the U.S.: South Korean retail investors have piled into Tesla this year and hold about a 1% stake in the American auto maker.
Tesla’s $454 billion market value now exceeds that of retail behemoth Walmart, the largest company in the U.S. by revenue.
Last week, Musk, 49, joined Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates in the rarefied centibillionaire club as tech stocks rose.
The heady pace of wealth accumulation in recent months is in stark contrast to the state of the global economy. Growth has slumped sharply since the pandemic began with companies laying off millions of workers and consumer demand cratering. The brunt of economic pain has been borne by young and lower-wage workers, whose jobs are typically more vulnerable to Covid-related layoffs.
The rising income inequality has provoked sharp responses from many progressive politicians and critics on the left. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders this month introduced legislation to tax “extreme wealth gains” during the pandemic.
Musk still has a long way to become the world’s richest person. Bezos is worth about $200 billion.