Science Says the Powerball Winners Can Ask for 35 Pounds of Free Cocaine

This has been your weird lottery take of the day.


It seems that the internet is thick with advice for potential lottery winners and we’re ready to lend a hand as well. Should you happen to be one of the $1.5 billion Powerball winners (the odds were one in 292 million, don’t feel bad), here’s how you and your co-winners can legally score 35 pounds of free cocaine:

1) Get your winnings completely cashed out in circulated dollar bills.

2) Done.

Though it sounds like the old yarn of alligators born in sewers or other hyperboles meant to die a quick death on, rumors that bills contain trace amounts of cocaine are in fact substantiated by forensic chemistry. It turns out that when bills come into contact with cocaine — for whatever reasons you could imagine — little bits of the narcotic bind to the green dye.

There’s a lot of variances when it comes to how much cocaine is bound to a given buck. One of the highest ever was a single bill with 1.327 milligrams of cocaine, reported in 1996; on average, it’s far less. It is not, however, zero. Depending on the data set, researchers have found averages from 2.34 nanograms (across multiple denominations) to 28.75 micrograms mean for dollar bills. In a 2009 study, $1 and $100 bills had the least amount of cocaine; bills from $5 to $50 had the most.

That’s not substantial enough to pose a health risk, though experts suggest that above-average exposure to dollar bills — bank tellers, for instance — could lead to failing a drug test. And, over enough bills, it adds up. The lump winnings sum, after federal taxes, puts you at about $562 million. If you took it all in $1 bills, at 28.75 micrograms a bill that’s 35.6 pounds of nose-clams.

Of course, for the Powerball winner, that means you’ll need to withdraw something like 620 tons of cash stacks, which doesn’t make logistical or financial sense. (Take the annuity!) But worrying about things like “logistics” and “where am I going to put all this money?” and “I’m not an eccentric with a money-room” are for poors, not for the nouveau-est of the nouveau riche.


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