JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Just how much is $1 billion?
No doubt you have talked or thought about what you might do if you won or were given a million dollars. Lots of people are millionaires today, so having a million dollars isn't what it used to be.
Most professional athletes are millionaires. Big time CEOs are multi-millionaires. Lots of doctors, lawyers and business people are millionaires and we probably have some millionaires right here in Bemidji. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a millionaire. I give those people credit for doing what they needed to do to become a millionaire. (By the way, we have more than 13 million millionaires in the United States. That's twice the population of Minnesota.)
Because millionaires are becoming kind of "Oh-hum, so what else is new," maybe we should talk about what it would be like if we were given a billion dollars. Lately, we are hearing about more and more people who are worth a billion dollars. Our president has hired lots of billionaires to either advise him or to serve in his cabinet. That's fine. When you are president, you can pretty much do what you want to do.
Do you wonder if it is even possible today for someone who is not a millionaire or billionaire to become president? There was a time when you could say to a young person, "Maybe someday you will grow up and become president." I hope that is still the case, but I read if you are going to run for president you will need about a billion dollars.
The number of billionaires has doubled in the last five years. We now have about 1,700 billionaires in the world. There are between 500 and 600 billionaires in the United States. The U.S. leads the list with 540 billionaires, followed by China with 251, Germany with 120, India with 84 and Russia with 77.
Exactly, how much is a billion? A billion is 1,000 million. Can you imagine? This is why billionaires don't hesitate to spend 10 million or even 100 million for a piece of property or to buy an expensive work of art. It's a drop in the bucket.
Well, let's say you were given $1 billion in one-dollar bills and were told to count them to make sure you were given the right amount. How long would it take you to count to a billion, one dollar per second? The answer is about 32 years. After counting it, I hope you would be well enough to enjoy spending it.
Who are some of the billionaires in the United States? Bill Gates is worth about $80 billion. Warren Buffett is worth about $60 billion. Mark Zuckerman, Facebook CEO, is worth about $45 billion. President Trump is worth between $3 billion to $5 billion, but no one really knows for sure. First Lady, Melania, is worth about $50 million earned during her modeling career.
Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar became the richest crook in history when he accumulated $30 billion dollars during his life as the leader of the Medellin drug cartel. After "making" all of that money, the police caught him and shot him dead. Having all that money didn't do him much good.
A billion minutes ago Jesus walked the earth.
A billion months ago, dinosaurs walked the earth.
A billion inches is halfway around the earth.
How much would a billion dollars weigh? If it were in denominations of 100-dollar bills, 1 billion dollars would weigh 10 tons. (A semi-trailer can haul about 40 tons.)
So what does all of this mean other than that it's just kind of fun to know how much a billion is and who is a billionaire?
If you were to make a billion dollars, you would now know what you are dealing with. I don't think I will ever be a millionaire and being a billionaire is, well; let's just say I can't afford to be president.
I am not sure what the point of this column is. Perhaps, if there is one thing wrong with being a billionaire it might be, "What's the point?" Does President Trump look like he is enjoying himself? See what I mean?
Riddle: Did you hear about the two antennas that got married? The wedding ceremony wasn't too good, but the reception was great! Would being a billionaire be fun? Maybe but you better enjoy going to lots of wedding receptions.