In 2017, the direct spending of the meetings industry, worldwide, was $1.07 trillion. That amount, at the time, was larger than the net worth of any U.S. company.
Apple became the first U.S. company to surpass $1,000,000,000,000; they did it in 2018. Since then other U.S. companies to reach that valuation have included Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft. Apple exceeded the $2 trillion mark in August of 2020.
The U.S. government spent $6.55 trillion in FY 2019 (October 1, 2019-September 30, 2020).
So how big is a trillion dollars? It’s a million times a million dollars. That’s a large number to conceptualize.
When I was a kid, a million dollars seemed like a lot of money. And it was. Still is today, but not nearly so much. I can visualize a hundred dollar bill; I can hold it in my hand. A stack of (100) $100 bills—that’s $10,000— is approximately half-inch thick; if I get a stack from the bank, I can easily slip it into an interior pocket of my suit jacket, and noone would know it’s there. I could fit 30 of those stacks in a grocery bag, $300,000, and have room to spare. A 4’x4’ skid with $100 dollar bills, shrink-wrapped and banded, would fill a space 48”x40”x42” high, and would contain $100 million dollars. Ten of those skids would equal one billion dollars. And that billion dollars would weigh 11 tons. So how does a billion equate to a trillion? In the first place it’s a thousand times bigger. A trillion is a thousand billion, and it’s a million, million. Let’s look at a few statistics.
- A stack of one billion dollars bills would be 67.9 miles high. A trillion dollar bills would reach 67,866 miles into space.
- A trillion dollar bills, laid end to end, would stretch 96,906,656 miles—further than the distance of the earth to the sun.
- A trillion dollars laid side to side, would cover more square miles than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
- A trillion dollars on skids would need to be transported by 478 semi-trailers. Unloaded, it would fill a football field from sideline to sideline, and almost goal line to goal line.
- If you were to spend $40/second, it would take 289 days to spend a billion dollars. And that’s at a spending rate of almost $3.456 million per day.
- At the same spending rate of $40/second, it would take 792.5 years to blow through one trillion dollars.
In recent years, the term “a trillion dollars” has been tossed around frequently. One trillion dollars would be over $3,000 to every man, woman, and child living in the U.S., or about $4,800 to every individual person in the U.S. over the age of 18.
How big is a trillion dollars? It’s a huge freakin’ number, is what it is.
Bob McGlincy is director, business management at Willwork Global Event Services. Willwork creates engaging, energized, and exceptional event experiences. He can be contacted at Bob.McGlincy@willwork.com