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Significant Digits For Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

Later this afternoon — around 3 p.m. EST — I’m hosting an ABC Live discussion show with Marvel Comics, be sure to tune in!

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12 to 15 years

Anita Thompson, the widow of writer Hunter S. Thompson, will clone and sell the late journalist’s marijuana stash. Essentially, the acclaimed and too often poorly imitated author of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72” left a weed stash after his suicide in 2005, and the remains of that stash — which is 12 to 15 years old — will be cloned and available on the free market. At least when people try to imitate his lifestyle in the future, they will be smoking weak-as-hell ganja. [CNBC]


134 to 63

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi beat a challenge from Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan to remain as the House minority leader. She’s held the top job among House Democrats since 2003, but Ryan’s 63 votes far exceeds an earlier contender for the gig, Heath Shuler’s 43 votes in 2010, a potential sign of cracks in the coalition. [NPR]


1.5 million British pounds

The British pound contains meat. I mean, kind of: Animal fat is used in the production of the new five-pound note, and vegans aren’t thrilled. This was a fantastic opportunity for Bloomberg to interrogate exactly how much money was damaged by being eaten or chewed up, and apparently in the United Kingdom, money is a delicacy: Since 2003, nearly 1.5 million pounds have been destroyed by mastication. Using gold leaf in cuisine was a dangerous slippery slope, is what I’m saying. [Bloomberg]


$108 billion

How much money in student debt — through the current school year — that the U.S. government will forgive in coming years. [The Wall Street Journal]


$118 billion

In 2014, an estimated $118 billion in sales were lost domestically by cards being declined when they should not have been. This hits very close to home; the hallmark of a good weekend out of town for me is a call from Wells Fargo asking if some madman has stolen my card and spent hundreds of dollars in liquor stores, bars, casinos and restaurants. When my debit card gets declined due to suspicions of fraud in some Delaware gas station on the ride back to New York, it means I did the weekend right. [The Wall Street Journal]


870 billion

Number of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris annually. The company has invested $3 billion into tobacco vaporizers, already available in some overseas markets, and plans to have the product in 20 markets this year. [Reuters]


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Walt Hickey is FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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