Strange Americana: Why Is There a 75-Foot-Tall Statue of Elon Musk in Tulsa Oklahoma?
For your daily dose of Strange America, check out the 5th largest statue in the United States. We know what you’re thinking and yes, that is Elon Musk's face plastered on it. If you find yourself in Tulsa, Oklahoma, you can ogle at the 75-foot-tall statue of the Tesla founder that straddles the horizon.
While Musk has his fans, few would go as far as building a giant statue of him. The inventor also has no clear connection to Oklahoma by himself. So... what happened?
Enter ... Big Oil?
You probably wouldn’t expect the oil industry to be behind a giant sculpture of one of the leading developers of electric cars. Nonetheless, the statue was built by the International Petroleum Exposition in 1966 — five years before Musk was even born. Known as the Golden Driller, it was a callback to two temporary statues created for previous expos, one in 1953 and the other in 1959.
Dress to Impress
The Golden Driller’s latest wardrobe change is part of an effort to convince Musk to open a new factory in Tulsa. Such a move would bring jobs and fame to the city, so everyone from the mayor to ordinary citizens contributed to the push to win over the company, with two groups, Tesla Owners Club of Oklahoma and Tulsa for Tesla, leading the way.
How Far Will Cities Go to Woo Corporations?
This is far from the first time a city has done something like this in order to persuade a company to bring its business there. In 2017, many cities — including Tulsa — did whatever they could to attract the attention of Jeff Bezos after Amazon announced it was searching for a city to host a second headquarters.
Tesla’s Supporters and Detractors
Elon Musk and Tesla have won praise for their successful business model and for producing some of the most advanced electrical vehicles (EV) on the road today. Elon Musk himself has numerous fans who admire his determination and ingenuity. However, Musk and Tesla also have their share of critics who are likely less enamored with the Golden Driller’s new look.