Elon Musk has outlined how he plans to use his vast wealth after facing criticism from Bernie Sanders about his personal fortune.
The SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s net worth is estimated to be around $170 billion (£120bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, ranking him just below Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the world’s rich list.
The median household income in the US, meanwhile, is $68,703, according to the United States Census Bureau – a disparity that Senator Sanders highlighted in a post to Twitter.
“We are in a moment in American history where two guys – Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – own more wealth than the bottom 40 per cent of people in this country,” Senator Sanders tweeted.
“That level of greed and inequality is not only immoral. It is unsustainable.”
Mr Musk responded by repeating a pledge he has made several times in the past: that he will use his wealth to fund a permanent human colony on Mars in order to ensure humanity’s future survival.
“I am accumulating resources to help make life multiplanetary and extend the light of consciousness to the stars,” he wrote.
Senator Sanders tweeted in reply: “Space travel is an exciting idea, but right now we need to focus on Earth and create a progressive tax system so that children don’t go hungry, people are not homeless and all Americans have healthcare. The level of inequality in America is obscene and a threat to our democracy.”
After making his first fortune by selling PayPal to eBay in 2002, Mr Musk reinvested the money in various companies and projects, including Neuralink, OpenAI, SpaceX, Tesla and The Boring Company. He is known for rarely taking holidays and last year announced that he planned to sell “almost all physical possessions”, including all of his California homes.
“You should ask why I would want money. The reason is not what you think. Very little time for recreation. Don’t have vacation homes or yachts or anything like that,” he said in January, after briefly overtaking Mr Bezos to claim the title as the world’s richest person.
“About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth and half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure the continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens and we destroy ourselves.”