Wealth of Musk Compared to the Income of Shohei Ohtani and a Tesla Assembly Line Worker-


Many people do not like reading articles containing numbers. Doing so is necessary to be able to grasp the extent of the wealth of the world’s wealthiest individual, Elon Musk. Comparing Musk’s wealth with the future income of baseball player Shohei Ohtani and that of a newly hired assembly line worker at the Tesla Fremont, California plant can help to bring some clarity to how much Musk is worth.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, at the end of 2023, Musk’s wealth stood at $229 billion after increasing $92 billion during the year.

At the end of 2019, Bloomberg placed his wealth at $28 billion. In a mere four years, despite declining $133 billion in 2022, it had increased more than 800%.

Here is where the Bloomberg Index placed the size of Musk’s wealth in the billions at the end of recent years.

2019     $28 billion
2020    $170 billion
2021     $270 billion
2022     $137 billion
2023     $229 billion

The above numbers may look small (though when written out, the last four come to 12 digits). The size of Musk’s 2023 wealth and its growth that year may be difficult to grasp without comparing them to some other amounts.

Musk’s Wealth Compared to Ohtani’s Income

Professional baseball player Shohei Ohtani recently signed the biggest contract in the history of sports. He is to be paid in each of the next ten years $70 million (though much is to be deferred). That comes to $.07 billion/year. Were his  $70 million income added to Musk’s wealth at the end of 2023, it would increase from $229 billion to $229.07 billion. Were the value of Ohtani’s entire contract, $700 million, immediately given to Musk, his wealth at the end of 2023 would have come to $229.7 billion. In other words, Ohtani’s massive ten-year contract for $700 million is less than one-third of one percent of Musk’s entire fortune.

If Ohtani could make his $70 million/year tax free and save all of it, he would have to play baseball for over 3,200 years to reach the level of Musk’s current wealth.

On an average day in 2023, Musk’s wealth increased over $252 million and in an average three days, it grew over $50 million more than the value of Ohtani’s  10-year contract of $700 million.

Musk’s Wealth and Ohtani’s Income Compared to Tesla Assembly Worker

At the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, in early January, there was a full-time job openingfor a Production Associate that requires one to work 12 hour shifts three days a week and every other week a fourth day from  “06:00AM-06:05PM or 06:00PM-06:05AM.” When accessed, the job description provided that the “Expected Compensation is $23.00 – $31.00/hour + cash and stock awards + benefits.”[1] However, soon thereafter, for many days in our high-tech world under “Expected Compensation” is “System is not able to retrieve compensation data at this time, please try again later.”

This job is not for everyone. One is expected to have “a strong work ethic” and be able to “demonstrate flexibility as needed by the business” that includes being “open to schedule flexibility that will allow for a variety of shifts, including days, nights, overnight, and/or weekends as needed as well as potential overtime.” The job involves “essential physical demands” including the “ability to work quickly,” the need to “stoop, lay, bend, reach, squat, kneel, crouch, twist and crawl for extended periods of time, including up to 12 hours/day,” and enduring “exposures to hazardous materials used in the painting process.”

Working an average work week of 42 hours (36 hours one week and 48 the next), yearly pay for that worker will range from $50,232 to $67,704/year (assuming no extra pay for overtime). If the additional value of benefits, etc. come to $12/hour, a Tesla Production Associate paid the highest hourly rate of $31 would be making a yearly pay package valued at $93,912.

To make as much as Ohtani is paid in one year, that worker would have to work more than 745 years. For the worker to make as much as Musk’s wealth increased in 2023, $92 billion, the worker would have to work over 979,600 years.

Musk’s wealth growing over $252 million in an average day in 2023 means that it grew more than $10.5 million in an average hour which comes to more than $175,000 in a single minute.  The yearly pay package of this newly hired Tesla Production Associate who would be expected to spend “extended periods of time” stooping, squatting, crouching, and crawling while being exposed to “hazardous materials” would be covered by less than the increase in Musk’s wealth during an average minute in 2023.

And Taxes

The pay of Ohtani and the Tesla Production Associate is subject to income, social security, and Medicare taxes. By contrast, since there is not a wealth tax on financial assets like stock, Musk is likely to pay little or no taxes on the increase in his wealth except for any of the increase that is income, or his stock holdings are sold at a gain. If the stock had been held for more than a year, it would likely be taxed at a lower rate than the rate paid by both Ohtani and the Tesla Production Associate on their pay.

Musk and other multi-billionaires have been allowed to accumulate great fortunes which is especially troubling given that millions of people throughout the world lack food, proper shelter, medical care, access to an education, and must endure severe environmental problems.


[1] Job announcement may have been filled/taken down.  Here is a comparable job announcement. Other jobs listed at https://www.tesla.com/careers



Rick Baum teaches Political Science at City College of San Francisco. He is a member of AFT 2121.