Humble leader offered $1 million for his old Beetle
President Jose Mujica of the South American country of Uruguay 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 once nicknamed "the poorest president in the world" told the Uruguayan weekly Busqueda that an Arab sheik offered $1 million for the humble car. When asked about the reported offer, Mujica said: "That's what they said to me, but I didn't give it any importance."
In an informal chat, 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 in Mexico for it.
Mujica said that if he got $1 million for the car, he would donate the money 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." And he joked that he didn't sell it because of his dog Manuela. The canine only has three legs.
Mujica was asked why someone would pay a fortune for his little car. He 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 renown when he assumed Uruguay's presidency in 2010 and 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 reportedly is worth $108,000.
Critical thinking challenge: How does the VW represent Jose Mujicas modest lifestyle?