Humble leader offered $1 million for his old Beetle
Jose Mujica is president of the South American country of Uruguay. He says he has received a million-dollar offer to buy his blue 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. The car has become a symbol of his modest lifestyle.
The man was once nicknamed "the poorest president in the world." He told the Uruguayan weekly Busqueda that an Arab sheik offered $1 million for the humble car. When asked about the reported offer at a news conference, Mujica said: "That's what they said to me, but I didn't give it any importance."
Mexico's ambassador to Uruguay recently suggested to Mujica that he auction the Beetle. The ambassador predicted he could get 10 four-wheel-drive trucks for it in Mexico. That's according to a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy.
Mujica said that if he got $1 million for the car, he would donate the money. It would go to a program he supports that gives housing to the homeless. If he got trucks for it, he said, they could go to Uruguay's public health office or his campaign workers.
The president said he would gladly auction the Beetle. He said he has "no commitment to cars." He joked that he didn't sell it because of his dog Manuela. The dog is famous for only having three legs.
Asked why someone would pay a fortune for his little car, Mujica noted that he keeps a hammer and shovel that belonged to his father. "They are little things to the world, but are worth a lot to you."
Mujica gained world renown when he assumed Uruguay's presidency in 2010. He declared that his entire wealth amounted to the 1987 Beetle. The ramshackle farm he lives on was in his wife's name.
Since then, in his official declarations of wealth, he has included the farm and he has been earning about $11,000 a month as president. He donates 20 percent to his political movement. Earlier this year he put his total wealth at $322,883. The flower farm was reportedly worth $108,000.