Try to comprehend how much money $1.4 billion really is

Terry Pegula owns not one, but two Buffalo sports franchises.

“How many sports franchises do I own? That’s right.”

By Nick Veronica

When you hear about the sale price of the Buffalo Bills, it’s easy to forget what all those zeros really mean.

To recap:

Terry and Kim Pegula submitted a winning bid of $1.4 billion. That’s $1,400,000,000. “One billion, four hundred million dollars.”

The Bon Jovi group bid $1.05 billion. That’s $1,050,000,000. “One billion, fifty million dollars.”

It’s hard to even comprehend that kind of money. A thousand millionaires could’ve teamed up and still been outbid!

Here’s trying to put those numbers into perspective:

>>> The Pegulas paid $175 million for the Sabres. That means they outbid the Bon Jovi group by two Buffalo Sabres organizations.

>>> You’d have to work 175 million hours at New York state minimum wage ($8/hour) to make $1.4 billion (before taxes). That’s 7,291,667 days or 19,997 years, not accounting for leap years.

So working at $8/hour, assuming you never got a raise or overtime or holiday pay and also never spent any money or paid any taxes, you would’ve had to work every hour of every day since the Late Stone Age to be able to form a bid that could compete with the Pegulas’ bid.

>>> Since living that long is a little unreasonable to ask, maybe you’d consider pooling your money. If everyone in your group worked eight hours a day for 365 days (again, excluding overtime/holiday/expenses/taxes/etc.), here’s how many people you’d need at different average group pay rates:

  • Working every day for a year at $8/hr: 59,932 people
  • At $12/hr: 39,954 people
  • At $30/hr: 15,982 people
  • At $1,000/hr: 479 people

Maybe instead you just wanted to group together every season ticket holder. If the Bills sold 42,540 season tickets last year, every holder of every seat would have to chip in more than $32,910.

>>> Maybe you’d like to target a wealthier demographic. It’d probably be a conflict of interest for football players to buy a team, but how about every player in the NHL? Using numbers from CapGeek, every player who is currently signed in the NHL will have a combined estimated cap hit of $1,915,607,276 this season. That’s enough to outbid Pegula! You could even negotiate it with the Player’s Union. Everyone gets to keep 25 percent of what he makes this season and gives the other 75 percent to buy the Bills. You’d have $1,436,705,437, about 36 million more than Pegula bid.

>>> Wait, what about winning the lottery? That could work. If you just happened to win all five of the largest Mega Millions jackpots in history, that’d give about $1.5 billion. Score!

Other comparisons

  • The CEOs of Western New York’s top 50 publicly traded companies made $96,582,585 in 2013 — less than 7 percent of the Bills sale price.
  • The Obama campaign raised about $1.072 billion in the 2012 election cycle — enough to outbid Bon Jovi but not the Pegulas.
  • You know the USAA Auto Insurance commercial where the kid says “mine was earned in Djibouti, Africa”? The entire GDP of Djibouti (and 20 other countries) is less than $1.4 billion.
  • Apple’s new ginormous iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 on a two-year contract. With $1.4 billion, you could buy 4,682,274 of them — one for every person in Louisiana, the 25th most populous state.
  • Or, better yet … a regular hot dog at Ted’s ($2.59) plus fries ($1.39) and a drink ($1.49) costs $5.95, including tax. With $1.4 billion, Pegula could’ve bought everyone in the Buffalo-Niagara metropolitan area (1,135,509 people) lunch for 207 days.
  • For even more happiness … $1.4 billion could buy those those 1,135,509 people a large coffee from Tim Hortons ($1.90) every morning for almost two years (649 days).
  • If you just wanted to split up that money between everyone, it’d be $123.29 per person … enough to give every person in the area full online access to the Buffalo News (and a Sunday paper) for more than a year (almost 62 weeks).
  • Forbes has estimated Pegula’s net worth to be $3.3 billion, so this sale would still leave him with more than half of his fortune. Good joke about being broke though.

  • Lastly, to keep $1.4 billion in perspective from the other direction, you’d have to give the government 12,689 times what Pegula spent to erase the national debt. (And, comparing tweets from that account, the national rose more than five times what Pegula spent just on Tuesday.)
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