In a revealing biography of Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson, it is recounted that the SpaceX CEO once passed out during a business meeting in Moscow after consuming several shots of vodka. Musk, accompanied by rocket engineer Jim Cantrell and Adeo Ressi, arranged the meeting with a group of unnamed Russian businesspeople to negotiate the purchase of rockets. However, this rendezvous took place on the heels of a night of intense partying in Paris, leaving Musk exhausted upon his arrival in the Russian capital.
The lunchtime meeting in a back room of a Moscow restaurant turned out to be quite eventful. It involved indulging in “small bites of food interspersed with large shots of vodka,” as described in the biography. The Russians even presented personalized bottles of vodka to Musk and his companions, adorned with custom labels depicting each recipient on Mars. Musk later recalled that the weight of the food and the vodka consumed were roughly equal, highlighting the magnitude of the drinking involved.
The biography captures the moment when, with a tired hand supporting his head, Musk unexpectedly passed out, his head colliding with the table. Despite Musk’s previous statements expressing a dislike for alcohol, preferring red wine instead, the effects of the vodka proved too much for him on this occasion. Interestingly, the biography also mentions instances where Musk is seen with alcohol, such as at the FIFA World Cup final in Qatar, further highlighting his complex relationship with alcohol.
Unfortunately, this meeting was not the only setback encountered during the trip. Isaacson reveals that in another meeting, Musk believed he had struck a deal to purchase two Dnepr rockets for $18 million, only to discover that the sellers actually wanted $18 million for each rocket. When Musk resisted the inflated price, the Russian businesspeople taunted him, mocking his financial capabilities.
This anecdote offers a rare glimpse into Musk’s earlier endeavors, showcasing the challenges he faced in his quest for rockets and his resilient spirit in the face of adversity. While the incident in Moscow may have been embarrassing, it serves as another chapter in the larger story that has made Elon Musk the influential figure he is today.