Typically when I see Elon trending on Twitter what I find is a combination of posts about Elon University and Tesla inventor / co-founder and SpaceX designer / founder Elon Musk. And weigh that heavily on the side of Elon Musk. The guy is a newsmaker as well as an innovator and promoter.
But the engineer, inventor and investor from South Africa has no real connection to Elon University, which was founded in 1889 in Alamance County. Well, until now. On Sunday — April Fool’s Day and Easter — Elon Musk produced an April Fool’s Day joke that cut in a few different directions. With Tesla coming off its worst financial month in seven years, he issued a series of tweets on Twitter first declaring that Tesla had declared bankruptcy.
Then he followed that with another post that included a photo.
This is where Elon University factored in. The T-shirt Elon Musk is wearing in his April Fool’s Day photo is clearly an Elon University item. On Twitter this set off a few questions from people not familiar with the university in the North Carolina Piedmont. There was some speculation that Elon University was not a real place — something Musk addressed with a follow up tweet saying that Elon is indeed very real. A few answered that they now want Elon University T-shirts or were interested in visiting Elon to see what the school is about.
Can’t beat that for free publicity.
Immediately people who teach or work at Elon chimed in.
Soon a hashtag appeared imploring Elon Musk to visit the university whose name derives from the Hebrew word for oak. #getelontoelon cropped up a few times.
Of course I had to chime in with a twist on a line from the now ancient TV show “Seinfeld.”
In all, the Elon Musk tweet with the Elon University T-shirt was retweeted more than 19,000 times. It generated 100,000 likes and 3,200 replies as of Monday afternoon — 19 hours after original tweet. That’s a lot of time the university got itself noticed on a national and international stage. The university responded this morning. I would say Elon is happy with the notice.
While Elon University’s response was a thumb’s up, global markets were decidedly mixed on the fake bankruptcy announcement. Tesla stock took a plunge Monday morning and Elon Musk got some scolding from financial leaders. They apparently have little sense of humor.
Anyway, as someone affiliated with Elon University I would like to say, thanks Elon Musk. And do stop by if you get the chance. We have a new convocation center ready to open in the fall and it will seat a bunch of folks. We’re growing our engineering, science and maker programs. The school is also a leader in Design Thinking. All that stuff should interest you.
Maybe I could throw in a new T-shirt, too. #getelontoelon