Fact Check: Unlabelled Satire Meme's Math Used To Lay Claim To Bezos' Bucks For Every Earthling Is Laughably NOT Right

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Unlabelled Satire Meme's Math Used To Lay Claim To Bezos' Bucks For Every Earthling Is Laughably NOT Right Leg Puller

Could Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' fortune be divided amongst all earthlings, netting each of us $1 billion and leaving Bezos still wealthy? No, that's not true: Assuming it could all be reduced to cash, Bezos' net worth distributed equally to every person on Earth would yield about $27 per person. The meme making the math-illiterate $1 billion-per-person claim appears to mock a debunked meme that circulated in November 2020 that missed several orders of magnitude in calculating how to confiscate Bezos' fortune for the benefit of all, and another that mixed up numbers in declaring that Bezos could pay for all planet-saving climate programs and still be a wealthy man.

The claim appeared in an August 10, 2021, Faceboook post (archived here) under the title "Jeff Bezos net worth is $185.3 Billion." It continued:

There is 7.8 billion people on earth. If he gave everyone on this planet $1 Billion, he would still have $177.5 Billion. This is why we must #TaxTheRich.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 25 23:58:18 2021 UTC)

The giveaway that this meme is meant to mock is the use of a picture of comic actor Frankie Muniz with the caption: "Wow, I can't find a flaw in his logic." The photo dates back to Muniz' starring role in "Malcom In The Middle" in which he played the brainy middle child in a family of goofballs ruled by a control-freak mother. Muniz character narrated the show, often pointing out dumb things his family members had done.

The meme is similarly harebrained and the numbers are a moving target, as the value of Amazon fluctuates and the population grows every minute of the day.

Fortune magazine's July 6, 2021, estimate of Bezos' worth was $211 billion and the Worldometer estimate of Earth's population on the same day was 7.9 billion people.

Using the full numbers, Bezos's fortune is $211,000,000,000 and Earth's population is estimated at 7,888,720,972 (and counting). Divide Bezos' fortune by the population and you'd have 26.7470481906, or approximately $26.75 for every resident of Earth.

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  Dean Miller

Lead Stories staff writer Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a one-year Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy for six years. As Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, a dual licensee, he oversaw radio, TV and print journalists, and documentary producers. He moved west to teach journalism at Western Washington University, edit The Port Townsend Leader and write the twice-weekly Save The Free Press column for the Seattle Times. Miller won the 2007 national Mirror Award for news industry coverage and he led the team that won the 2005 Scripps Howard first amendment prize. 

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