Elon Musk, who arrived in Brazil to visit his family for the first time, didn't know his cachaca and his churrasco. He was greeted by President Jair Bolsonaro with a medal around his neck.
According to an Associated Press review, the Defense Ministry honor was first awarded to a foreign civil without a government post since 2002's creation.
It was not surprising, given Bolsonaro’s generosity in decorating ideological allies and ministers, loyalists, and families -- sometimes on unquestioned grounds. Bolsonaro has six medals himself from his own government.
Bolsonaro's cabinet has a medal almost as a part of the job. The Order of Defense Merit and Order of Rio Branco are the most highly regarded medals in the nation. Bolsonaro has awarded at least three quarters of all former or current ministers at least one of these medals.
Since 2019, he has given at least 76 of three of the top medals to ministers, more than any of his elected predecessors during their terms.
Bolsonaro also presented three medals of different types to Michelle Bolsonaro and Flavio, his senator son. Eduardo, his son and lawmaker, received at least six.
Carlos Melo, an Insper University political science professor, stated that the awards were meant to "forge the appearance" of being surrounded with people of merit and high caliber. "One could be the best, but it's impossible to say for all."
Istoe claimed that Bolsonaro had turned the government into a medal dispensary in a November magazine article entitled "The Farce of the Medals." The AP asked the presidential palace about the motives behind the medals.
Sometimes, heads of state bestow awards on controversial grounds. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son in law, was awarded Mexico's highest honor, the Order of the Aztec Eagle. He helped to renegotiate the North American Trade Agreement. Barack Obama has given out more Presidential Medals of Freedom to American leaders than any other leader since the creation of the program, including one for Warren Buffett, a billionaire, and one for Joe Biden.