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Significant Digits For Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. I’m your host Candice Norwood, taking over for Ollie. Send any tips or suggestions to me.


Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a new law Monday requiring the state’s public schools to commemorate the day with a moment of silence. “9/11 was one of the single darkest periods in this state’s and this nation’s history,” Cuomo said in a statement. Most K-12 students today were not born at the time of the tragedy. The new law is meant to encourage dialogue and education in the classroom. [New York Post]

$160 million

Michael Bloomberg is taking the e-cigarette craze very seriously. Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Tuesday it will push state and federal lawmakers to ban flavored e-cigarettes; the group plans to spend $160 million over three years in this effort. Currently officials around the country are investigating cases of severe lung diseases linked to vaping, which has reportedly caused five deaths. The new initiative will be Bloomberg’s first anti-tobacco campaign in the U.S. [The Washington Post]

$9.75 school lunch debt

A 9-year-old had his cheese sticks snatched away (on his birthday). Why, you ask? Because he had an unpaid school lunch balance of … $9.75. Jefferson Sharpnack, a student with Green Primary School in Ohio, said he was “a little hurt” after his hot lunch was taken last week. The incident caused a public uproar and the school district changed its policy. According to the superintendent, students will now “receive the standard lunch for the day at their respective buildings regardless of their account balance.” Happy belated, little Jefferson! [NBC News]

Jan. 1, 2023

California college athletes looking to make some coins from their hard work could be in luck. The State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill Monday that will allow college athletes to more easily make money off their name, image and likeness. Once some details are ironed out between California’s legislatures, the bill will head to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and, if signed, would take effect Jan. 1, 2023. The new measure could set up a conflict with the NCAA’s amateurism rules that restrict compensation for athletes. Stay tuned. [USA Today]

A $120,000 deposit

Note to self: If you get a mysterious bank deposit, don’t spend it! A Pennsylvania couple is in legal trouble after blowing through the majority of $120,000 mistakenly deposited into their bank account. Among their many purchases, the couple apparently bought a Chevrolet SUV, a race car and two four-wheelers. In total they spent just over $107,000. Now, they’re facing felony theft charges. The price of their SUV: $14,500. Peace of mind: priceless. [Fox Business]

Less than one-third

The Trump administration has some spending to do. Tens of billions of dollars allocated for disaster recovery haven’t been used yet. As of June 30, the government had spent less than one-third of the $107 billion provided by Congress. The funds are being held up in part by antiquated laws, in addition to the federal requirements states and cities must meet to receive money. The slow spending is one of several big challenges for federal officials as disasters worsen amid climate change. [The New York Times]

Candice writes the Significant Digits column for FiveThirtyEight, and is interested in how race, gender and class shape societies throughout the world. Most recently, she worked as a staff writer for Governing Magazine and a White House stringer with Bloomberg News.