Tulsa wants Tesla.
The Oklahoma city, which once called itself the Oil Capital of the World, reportedly is a finalist to land the automaker’s Cybertruck plant.
And to help its bid, Tulsa has temporarily transformed a prominent symbol of its ties to the petroleum industry into a monument to CEO Elon Musk.
The Golden Driller, a 76-foot-tall statue of an oil worker resting his arm on a derrick, was repainted last week to resemble Musk, with a Tesla logo on its chest and a Tesla belt buckle. The structure — made of steel, concrete and plaster and originally created for the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition — is the sixth-tallest statue in the U.S.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, alluding to a dispute Musk had this month with authorities in Fremont, Calif., over when Tesla was allowed to resume vehicle production there, said the statue’s makeover shows that Tulsa “doesn’t stifle entrepreneurs — we revere them!”
Bynum also tweeted an image of a Cybertruck made into a police vehicle for the city. “If @Tesla and #Tulsa team up to change the world, it would only be right to #BuyLocal,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, several hundred people gathered on the University of Tulsa’s football field to spell out “Tulsa 4 Tesla.”
The effort could be too late, though. The website Electrek reported that Tesla has decided to locate the Cybertruck plant in Austin, Texas.