Elon Musk called attention to the sticker shock American motorists currently face at the pump by sharing an old photo of a 7-Eleven sign displaying $7.11 per gallon gas prices.
Musk, the CEO of the electric car maker Tesla, tweeted the photo Tuesday without a caption or further commentary. The image has also been widely circulated as a meme on Reddit with a caption that read “The prophecy has been fulfilled.”
However, the sign is not a genuine portrayal of prices at the station. The store featured in the photo actually listed the price during a sign test more than one year earlier.
A 7-Eleven representative confirmed the photo was old in a statement to The Post and said the image was related to a past company practice at recently built stores.
“This photo is more than a year old. In the past, it was common for building contractors to test the fuel price signs at newly built, but not yet open, 7-Eleven locations to $7.11 in honor of the store’s name,” the company spokesperson said.
“We have since requested that building contractors stop this practice and hope this recently re-circulated photo did not cause any confusion for 7-Eleven customers,” the spokesperson added.
NPR identified Matt Beemsterboer, 34, as the original photographer behind the photo. Beemsterboer told the outlet that he originally took the picture in March 2021 near his Chicago home after coming across a Mobil gas station that was being reconstructed as a 7-Eleven store.
“And so when they were like, setting up, and they didn’t have the pumps active and the store was still being built out. They had the sign up, and they just put it up as $7.11. And I just thought it was kind of funny,” Beemsterboer told the outlet.
The same gas station listed a gallon of regular gasoline at $6.09 as of Wednesday, according to GasBuddy. The national average gas price is hovering near an all-time high of $5 per gallon and some stations in California and other states have surpassed the $7 threshold.
Gas prices hit fresh records in recent months after the Russia-Ukraine war added more pressure on a global energy market that was already struggling to meet surging demand and overcome COVID-19 supply chain issues.
The US placed an embargo on Russian energy shipments and many Western companies have shunned the Kremlin’s oil since the invasion began.
While Musk and Tesla are pursuing a shift toward climate-friendly sustainable technologies, the billionaire argued in March that the US needed to “increase oil & gas output immediately” to account for market imbalances.
“Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” Musk tweeted at the time. “Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil & gas exports.”