You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. A bittersweet note about Significant Digits before we get going: FiveThirtyEight is revamping Significant Digits in the coming weeks. This will be the last edition in this format. The newsletter will take a few weeks off but will be back soon — stay tuned for more. You can follow writer Karen K. Ho on Twitter: @karenkho.
Today’s number is 14.82 million, the number of people who tuned in to watch the first night of “Jeopardy: The Greatest of All Time” tournament on Wednesday. Champions Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer are scheduled to conclude the three-game tournament tonight at 8 p.m.
$1 increase in the minimum wage
Even small increases in earnings can have huge health outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health this week found that states that raised their minimum wages by $1, reduced the suicide rates by 3.4 percent to 5.9 percent among adults between the ages of 18 and 64, whose highest educational attainment was a high school diploma or less. Researchers analyzed 25 years of monthly data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. [Washington Post]
73,000 deaths in the U.S
A new study from the National Center for Health Statistics shows drinking is rising in popularity among more Americans, resulting in more alcohol-related deaths. Researchers looked at almost 20 years of data and found nearly 73,000 people died in the U.S because of liver disease and other alcohol-related illnesses in 2017, more than twice as many people who died from the same health reasons in 1999. Researchers found that some of the greatest increases were among women and those who were 50 and older. [National Public Radio]
103 points in the clutch
Chris Paul’s performance with the Oklahoma City Thunder this season has been so remarkable, FiveThirtyEight’s Chris Herring says he might “legitimately be the NBA’s best closer.” Through his scoring help, the team had won 10 of out of their last 12 games going into Thursday’s match against the Houston Rockets, and as Herring noted they are now tied for the second-most wins in the league. Paul’s ability to score in the fourth quarter has set him apart from the rest of the league, with his total of 103 points in the clutch as of Thursday afternoon, 20 more than Zach LaVine, the next closest player. [FiveThirtyEight]
800 academic papers
The Russian Academy of Sciences appointed a commission to investigate unethical publication practices in an industry that has been known for low standards and thousands of cases of plagiarism as well as “questionable authorship,” according to Science Magazine, and now more than 800 papers from various Russian journals will be retracted. One former staffer at the U.S. National Science Foundation called the preliminary report from the RAS “a bombshell” for documenting the breadth of the problem. [Science]
292 sea turtles
On Thursday, Mexican environmental authorities announced that a red tide algae bloom was responsible for the deaths of 292 sea turtles from the country’s southern Pacific coast. The toxic algae had caused many of the turtles to stop breathing or keep their heads up. Volunteers, researchers and other authorities were able to save 27 of the Pacific Green sea turtles, though. [Associated Press]
$220,000 in student loan debt
Educational debt is usually something that can’t be included when filing bankruptcy, but one case might soon help more people drowning in student loans. Judge Cecelia G. Morris of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., ruled that a U.S. Navy veteran didn’t have to pay $220,000 in student loan debt because “satisfying his law school debt in full would impose an undue hardship.” [Wall Street Journal]