When Chris Reynolds opened his PayPal statement for June, he saw a balance far greater than the $140 he expected: a credit of $92 quadrillion or $92,233,720,368,547,800 to be exact.
That is such a seriously enormous amount of money; it’s as if our brains aren’t even wired to grasp numbers so vast. Many of us have a hard time even considering what a billion means: a billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was going strong. A billion hours ago, the Stone Age was in full swing.
A trillion is even harder to conceptualize, but try this: 1 trillion seconds equals 31,546 years.
If your brain isn’t short-circuiting yet, let’s move on to a quadrillion. In the United States a quadrillion is a one with 15 zeros (in the U.K. and other countries that use the long-scale system, it’s a one followed by 24 zeros).
Reynolds said that if the phantom figure had been real, he would have paid off the national debt — a figure so high that it defies comprehension. But get this: with $92 quadrillion, he could have paid it off 5,411 times.
How else could you spend $92 quadrillion? Here are some suggestions.
1. Lavish your fellow Americans with outlandish gifts
With 316 million people in the United States, $93 trillion could afford each person two new homes, two new Ferraris and two new Learjets … with more than $250 million left for each person to put in their bank accounts.
2. Buy jewels
The 45.52-carat Hope Diamond, one of the most famous gems in the world, is worth $350 million; with your new windfall — if you were feeling utterly irresponsible — you could buy 265,714,285 of them.
3. Save a few rain forests
4. End extreme poverty
In his book, “The End of Poverty,” Jeffrey Sachs estimates that to end extreme poverty worldwide in 20 years, the total cost per year would be about $175 billion; about $3.5 trillion for the whole endeavor. With your $92 quadrillion, you could end extreme poverty in 20 years, and then do it again 26,285 more times.
5. Make everyone in the world a millionaire
With 7.1 billion people in the world, you could write a check to each and every one of them for $13,098,591.55. Of course, if it took you 30 seconds to write each check, it would take around 6,754 years to finish the task.
Unfortunately for Reynolds, the briefly minted quadrillionaire, PayPal caught the glitch before he could start buying Learjets for all of his friends. Even so, the illusory jackpot left him feeling charitable; after the mistake was corrected, he donated $30 to the Democratic slate for Delaware County Council.
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