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No, Elon Musk could not have canceled student debt with money spent on Twitter shares

Despite the claims in a viral tweet, the billionaire also could not have sent every American family $100K instead of buying into Twitter.

WASHINGTON — Billionaire Elon Musk has been shaking up the stock market and the Twitter-verse this week with news that he bought a sizeable chunk of the company’s stocks and snagged a spot on the board. 

It's understandable if it doesn’t feel like this news impacts your life much: but one viral tweet claims it could have.

User @hunterwalk posted this tweet, which has been re-tweeted nearly 17,000 times:

“With the money Elon Musk spent to buy twitter shares, he could have given every American family $100,000 and still had enough left over to cancel all student debt.”

QUESTION

Could Elon Musk have given every American family $100,000 and canceled student debt with the money he spent on Twitter shares?

CONCLUSION

This is false.

While it's unknown exactly how much money Musk spent in his Twitter buy, it would have been less than what stocks are valued at now--and that's not even enough to fulfill the Tweet's claims. 

SOURCES

  • Nasdaq
  • The U.S. Census
  • The Department of Education
  • David Sacco, University of New Haven finance, Practitioner in Residence
  • Some good old fashioned math

WHAT WE FOUND

According to this SEC disclosure form, Musk bought 73,486,938 shares of Twitter: That’s 9.2% of the company. 

RELATED: Elon Musk cannot own a majority stake of Twitter while he’s on the company’s board

"The SEC wants investors to be aware of other large investors who may be taking stakes in companies with the intention of influencing policies or merging the companies or just changing something about the business," said Sacco.

Musk didn’t disclose how much money he spent on his Twitter stocks, the value of which shot up after news of his buy-in.

RELATED: Twitter will finally let you 'unmention' yourself in conversations

"It's pretty safe to assume that everything he bought was at a lower price than wherever it is right now," said Sacco.

For math’s sake, let’s stick with the value at close before this tweet came out: $49.97. That would make Musk’s share worth more than $3.6 billion—again, probably much higher than the price he paid for the shares. 

Starting with the claim about student debt: according to the Federal student loan portfolio, Americans currently have $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt right now, far more than what Musk would have paid for his Twitter stock.

Could he have at least given $100,000 to every American family? 

The census doesn’t list “families,” so instead we’ll do the math by household. Again assuming the stocks were bought for $49.97 or less, with more than 122 million American households by last count, that would equal a payout of $30.01 per household. 

We reached out to the guy who posted the tweet in the first place and did not hear back, but he did post a follow-up tweet about his takeaways from the viral post: people either don't do math, or are quick to support their “rich icons.” 

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