Elon Musk says he sold enough Tesla (TSLA) shares to “get around to 10%” – which was the amount he said he would sell as part of his controversial Twitter poll.

The CEO is actually far from 10%, but the whole situation is murky.

Last month, Musk said he would sell 10% of his stake in Tesla if a Twitter poll would agree, which it unsurprisingly did.

The CEO framed the idea as pressure from the media and politicians about the rich not paying taxes on unrealized gains.

However, Musk wasn’t as vocal about the fact that he was facing a giant tax bill regardless of his sale of shares, due to a large number of stock options he needs to exercise over the next year.

10% of his stake at the time of the poll would be roughly 17 million shares.

Yesterday, Tesla disclosed that Musk exercised 2 million more options worth almost $1.9 billion and sold 584,000 of those shares.

In a new interview with Conservative satire site The Babylon Bee released the same day, Musk claimed that he “sold enough stock to get to around 10% plus the option-exercise stuff”:

I sold enough stock to get to around 10% plus the option-exercise stuff, and I tried to be extremely literal here…

Musk has in fact sold 13.5 million Tesla shares since making the Twitter poll announcement about selling 10% of his stake in Tesla.

On top of it, he exercised 16.4 million Tesla stock options during the same time as part of his previous compensation package.

Therefore, Musk’s holding in Tesla has increased in the total number of shares since making the announcement.

Electrek’s Take

It’s not clear if he means to say that he is now done with exercising options and selling Tesla stocks at this point, but it does sound like it.

What is clear is that the way Musk framed the stock sale had absolutely nothing to do with the Twitter poll or pressure for him to pay taxes as the world’s richest man.

Tesla disclosed that most of Musk’s stock sales were related to exercising his expiring stock options based on a plan established back in September – way before the Twitter poll.

Yes, the CEO did sell additional shares that didn’t have to do with this plan and exercising stock options, but nowhere near 10% of his stake in Tesla.

Either way, Musk will indeed pay a historic tax bill this year. It just wasn’t about a Twitter poll, like he made it seem.

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Fred Lambert

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