On Dec. 3, 2022, the History in Pictures Twitter account tweeted that Twitter owner Elon Musk once said, "When something is important enough, you do it, even if the odds are not in your favor."
It's true Musk once said this. The comment had also appeared in other tweets in late 2022.
In a video first broadcast by "60 Minutes" in 2012, CBS News' Scott Pelley asked Musk about starting his rocket company, SpaceX:
Pelley (narrating): So, Musk decided that the only way to get an affordable rocket was to build it himself, and he started SpaceX.
Musk: The odds of me coming into the rocket business, not knowing anything about rockets, not having ever built anything, I mean, I would have to be insane if I had thought the odds were in my favor.
Pelley: Why even begin?
Musk: When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
Pelley: How much of your personal fortune have you poured into this?
Musk: A hundred million dollars.
Pelley: A hundred million dollars into something that you did not believe would work at the beginning?
The portion in the transcript above begins at the 3:49 mark in this video:
The SpaceX founder made a similar remark during a later interview, as well.
In 2016, Musk sat down for an interview with Sam Altman. At the time, Altman was the president of Y Combinator. He is now the CEO of OpenAI, which owns ChatGPT.
During the interview, Musk said, "There are just times when something is important enough [and] you believe it enough that you do it in spite of fear."
In this longer transcript from the interview, Musk acknowledged that he thought the odds of SpaceX being a success were "less than 10 percent." He also added that he once thought the chances of Tesla succeeding were "extremely low":
There are just times when something is important enough [and] you believe it enough that you do it in spite of fear. It's like, people shouldn't think, "Well, I feel fear about this and therefore I shouldn't do it." It's normal to feel fear. Starting SpaceX, I thought the odds of success were less than 10 percent, and I just accepted that actually, I'd probably just lose everything, but that maybe we'd make some progress if we could just move the ball forward. Even if we died, maybe some other company could pick up the baton and keep moving it forward, so that would still do some good. Same with Tesla, I thought the odds of the car company succeeding were extremely low.
The following tweet shows this portion of the interview:
This story will be updated if we find other mentions of this same quote.