By T.J. Struhs
Powerball Pandemonium. Lotto Fever. Powerball-apalooza? Whatever you want to call it, it all came to a dramatic end this week with the largest jackpot in history — $1.6 billion — being split three ways to lucky lotto players in California, Florida, and Tennessee. When it was all said and done, more than 600 million tickets (635,103,137) were sold. That is a whole hunk of paper, but what does 600 million tickets look like? Let's put that number into perspective:
Each set of six numbers purchased (for $2) is counted as an individual ticket, so when the lottery says over 600 million tickets have been sold, it means over 600 million sets of numbers have been purchased. So, if you were to buy two, or three, or ten, or twenty sets of numbers, each of those 'tickets' would be printed on a single paper receipt. Assuming there was an average of 5 'tickets' per printed receipt, that means more than 127 million (127,020,627) paper receipts were printed for this week's historic drawing!
Printed on a thermal paper with a thickness of just 0.00315 inches, if you were to stack all of these paper receipts it would be over 33,000 feet (33,343) high. That's the equivalent of 23 Empire State buildings, or hiking Mount Everest and placing a 4,000 foot flag pole on its summit.
Woah. That is a lot of paper!
I know what you are thinking. "But what about the trees...with staggering numbers like these, surely this can't be a good thing?" But it is! Thanks to good forest management practices, conservation efforts and innovation, American forests are as strong and as healthy today as they ever have been. In fact, there are more trees in the U. S. today than there were 100 years ago. And while it may seem counter-intuitive that demand for lottery tickets is in fact helping to strengthen our forests, healthy markets for paper and wood products are what drive these good forest management practices and replanting efforts, and in turn, healthy forests.
There is no denying paper had a special impact on the more than 26 million people who won this week. But to the more than 900,000 hardworking men and women of the forest products industry, and the countless millions of people who rely on paper and other fiber-based products daily, this was an even better week — it shows just how healthy our markets are and by extension, how healthy our industry is.