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How Much Does a Million Dollars Weigh? (Revisited)

Written by Nickel - 19 Comments

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Awhile back, I investigated whether or not a million dollars really is a ton of money. As it turns out, the answer depends on whether or not you use the metric system. A million dollars in one dollar bills weighs in at a metric ton, or about 1.1 US tons. So then I got to thinking…

What if you had a million dollars in pennies? How much would that weigh? To get to the bottom of this mystery, I once again weighed some money. This time it was ten pennies, which weighed in at 26.15 grams. Assuming that this is representative of the pennies that are out there in circulation, we can now do a bit of math…

Let’s see… 2.615 grams per penny, 100 pennies in a dollar. That makes… Hrrrmmm… Carry the one… 261,500,000 grams or 261,500 kg. This corresponds to 261.5 metrics tons. Given that a metric ton is roughly 2200 pounds, we’re talking about 575,300 pounds, or just a shade under 288 US tons.

But wait! A penny really isn’t worth a penny anymore! What’s that, you say? A penny’s not worth a penny? Well, with recent reports that pennies actually cost 1.5 cents to produce, we need to adjust the numbers a bit. At a penny and a half per penny, if you were looking to mint pennies and you had a million bucks to spend, you be able to produce 66,666,667 pennies. So how much would that weigh? A hefty 383,533 pounds, or just a touch below 192 US tons.

What’s the point of all this? I’m really not sure, but it struck me as an entertaining exercise, and the recent news about how much a penny really costs just heightened my curiosity. Oh, and in case you’re curious, the US Mint estimates that there are as many as 140 billion pennies in circulation today — that’s 1.4 billion dollars.

So there you have it… Your math lesson for the day.

Published on April 25th, 2006 - 19 Comments
Filed under: Miscellany

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. I think that I will just take a check…

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 25th 2006 @ 8:22 am
  2. hehe. Top post!

    most entertaining, I can picture you now taking this very seriously with your weighing scales.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 25th 2006 @ 11:23 am
  3. I sometimes wonder how many of those pennies “in circulation” really are, given the incredibly low value density of pennies in recent years. I probably have $20 or more worth of pennies scattered around my apartment. When I get pennies in change, I usually leave them on the counter. Turning them into spendable money takes so long that it’s no longer worth it to me…and I know I’m far from the only one who feels this way.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 26th 2006 @ 1:00 am
  4. I ran across The MegaPenny Project last night. I thought it might interest you.

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 27th 2006 @ 9:05 am
  5. Heh – someone has too much time on their hands. Aren’t those boys keeping you busy enough ???

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 30th 2006 @ 2:10 am
  6. Just wire me the money ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Anonymous — May 3rd 2007 @ 2:05 pm
  7. good stuff loved the info

    Comment by Anonymous — Apr 27th 2009 @ 1:35 am
  8. I’d like to see us all do without pennies. everything would have to be rounded up to a nickel. save them pennies up. By the time I cash them in I get about $80. Don’t be dumb matt.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 12th 2010 @ 11:36 pm
  9. Give it to my wife and in ten minutes it won’t weigh half of what it did.

    Comment by Anonymous — Feb 13th 2010 @ 12:05 am
  10. how much does a million dollars in $100 bills weigh?

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 28th 2011 @ 4:39 pm
  11. Your math is wrong, one million pennies is only 2.5 tons. Not 288 tons. The U.S. penny has a mass of 2.5 gram; multiplied by a million gives you 2500 kg. or 2.5 tonnes.

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 23rd 2011 @ 12:10 am
  12. Bill: Re-read the post. I was calculating the value for million dollars in pennies. That would be 1,000,000 x 100 pennies. Your estimate was for 1M pennies, which is just $10k. My math is correct, as is yours, but you were answering a different question.

    Comment by Nickel — Aug 23rd 2011 @ 9:18 am
  13. So Sorry, my bad. But what is really amazing to me is that you replied to my comment on an article that you wrote in 2006, cool!

    Comment by Anonymous — Aug 23rd 2011 @ 11:08 pm
  14. It is almost wothless to know but god is it mentally stimulating to think about. Thank you for getting an average weight being that money loses mass over time. Anymore articles like this?

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 25th 2012 @ 7:22 pm
  15. So if my local recycling center is paying $2.90 for a pound of copper then all i got to do to almost double my money is go get a hundred dollars in pennies in recycle it as copper. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Anonymous — Jun 4th 2012 @ 12:05 am
  16. cruzz: Too bad that pennies are now mostly made of zinc…

    Comment by Nickel — Jun 8th 2012 @ 1:52 pm
  17. Nickel, you wrote this almost 6 years ago, AND your still replying to comments, Well played sir, well played.

    Comment by Anonymous — Jul 31st 2012 @ 12:26 am
  18. I aim to please. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Comment by Nickel — Jul 31st 2012 @ 9:06 am
  19. increment total weight (US tons)
    $1 bill 1.10231
    $1 coin (Eisenhower) 25.0003908
    $1 coin (SBAnthony/Sacagawea) 8.928711
    $1 coin (walking liberty) 34.50340531
    Quarters 25.0003908
    dimes 25.0003908
    Dimes (pre 1853) 29.431677
    nickles 110.231
    pennies 275.5775
    Pennies (pre 1864) 342.81841
    Large cent 1200.41559
    half Cent 1485.91388

    Comment by Anonymous — Jan 31st 2013 @ 11:11 am

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