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Andrew Nelson lifts the hood of his Tesla Model S in front of the Golden Driller. Tulsa's iconic Golden Driller statue is joining the effort to help lure automaker Tesla to build its new US assembly plant here. (AP)
Andrew Nelson lifts the hood of his Tesla Model S in front of the Golden Driller. Tulsa's iconic Golden Driller statue is joining the effort to help lure automaker Tesla to build its new US assembly plant here. (AP)

'They’re groveling': Locals fume after city repaints iconic statue as Elon Musk

  • Many feel Oklahoma's Tulsa is groveling for attention in its bid to attract Tesla's next factory.
  • Residents are fuming that the iconic seven-story, 22-ton statue of an oil worker called The Golden Driller was redone to resemble Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

In what many have referred to as a brazen bid to attract Tesla's attention, an Oklahoma state monument was recently redesigned and repainted to resemble Elon Musk, Tesla's billionaire CEO. The driving idea behind giving the seven-story, 22-ton statue of an oil worker called The Golden Driller was to portray Tulsa as a city ready to welcome Tesla's next new factory and provide Musk with the ideal conditions that could forge a lasting partnership.

Not many in Tulsa, however, are cheering.

Local media outlets have reached out to several residents of Tulsa, a city of over 400,000 people, for their opinion of the makeover and many are absolutely aghast at both the statue and the reason why it was given a new look. "It’s this weird, ghostly, white mask-like thing. It sort of looks like if you FaceSwapped with some creature. I just couldn’t believe it. I’m shocked at how transparent it is—the kind of a symbol they created in putting this enormous billionaire, literally a giant towering billionaire in Tulsa—the lack of self-awareness. They’re groveling," 28-year-old Lucas Wrench was quoted as saying by The Yucan Times.

There has been massive backlash on social media outlets as well with many questioning if messing up an iconic statue was the right way to attract a company's attention. Some even say the makeover seeks to appeal to the 'narcissistic credentials' of Musk himself. Even mayor GT Bynum was at the receiving end for his posts on Facebook and Twitter highlighting the statue and using it to reach out to Tesla. "I would love any business large or small to make Tulsa its home but this is a preposterously asinine way to encourage economic growth. Defacing a historical landmark that represents what our city was built on does not equate to a reason a business would choose to make Tulsa its home," wrote Stacy Spohn Bay. "This is not cool. The golden driller is a Tulsa landmark. Painting him up to look like Elon Musk is really awful. Tesla either likes Tulsa the way we are or doesn't. Stay true to our character and the people who are supposed to be here will come here," wrote Shannan Williams.

There have been some voices in support of the move as well with comments related to how it was a considerably inexpensive way to reach out for Tesla's attention and how Tulsa needs to steer away from its oil-drilling past and move into an electric future.

The larger consensus though is that changing an iconic statue to attract a big company's attention may not have been the right option to take.

States and cities have been going the extra mile to project themselves as a viable site for Tesla's new factory. This is because a Tesla factory creates thousands of employment opportunities and has the potential to generate massive revenues

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