Elon Musk took over the number one spot on the list of the world’s wealthiest people from Jeff Bezos on Monday. Musk is the third person in history to have amassed a $200 billion fortune, Forbes reported.
This climb is also notable for dethroning the former wealthiest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin. This detail was not lost on Musk, who is currently locked in a competition over the future of space exploration, with Bezos’ Blue Origin losing out on a contract with NASA to Musk’s SpaceX.
When Forbes asked Musk for a comment on his new top spot in the ranking, Musk responded with this:
“I’m sending a giant statue of the digit ‘2’ to Jeffrey B., along with a silver medal.”
Bezos became the first person in history to be worth $200 billion in August 2020, and him and Musk have been battling for the top spot ever since, with Musk briefly holding the title in January of this year.
Inside Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ feud
Its safe to say that Musk’s comment was not a friendly jab. The two figures, and their fight for dominance over aerospace engineering and the prospective space tourism industry, has often been contentious.
The culmination of their space race came when Blue Origin lost its bid for contract to build NASA’s forthcoming lunar lander. The federal space agency gave the $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX in April, and Bezos’ company threatened litigation:
“We firmly believe that the issues identified with NASA’s lunar lander procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to create competition and ensure a safe return to the moon for America. We’ve been engaged in conversations with NASA since the GAO announcement. We continue to point out the issues in the prior selection process. We’ve also confirmed that adding a second lunar lander award to Appendix H is legal and appropriate and we, today, have an open contract. We are hopeful that NASA will take advantage of our offer and we can all get to work.”
Musk responded to Christian Davenport, the Washington Post’s space reporter who received this statement from Blue Origin and posted it to twitter, with an image of Blue Origin’s lander design, mocking its construction in the caption, deadpanning that NASA found Blue Origin’s lander “unconvincing.”
Bezos, who is more restrained with in public than his South African rival, has dismissed some of Musk’s central interests, like colonizing Mars, in more indirect ways: “My friends who want to move to Mars? I say, ‘Do me a favor. Go live on the top of Mount Everest for a year first and see if you like it—because it’s a garden paradise compared to Mars.”