I was impressed when Oprah Winfrey made $71 million in a single day.
Compared to that, I guess it isn't really that big a deal that Forbes is reporting that Mark Zuckerberg made nearly $5 billion in the first two weeks of 2017.
But still: $5 billion. OK, $4.7 billion to be exact. That's a chunk of change.
You've probably already deduced where these fantastic wealth jumps come from. Winfrey, Brin, Page, and Bezos all own massive amounts of publicly traded stock that saw massive gains.
In Brin, Page, and Bezos's cases, the stakes are obvious: Alphabet and Amazon. Winfrey's story is a little bit more obscure; she made her money as a result of owning 10 percent of Weight Watchers. When the company announced she had become its spokesperson, its stock went through the roof.
And here we are: It's happened again. Zuckerberg is fifth on the list of the richest people in the world, and counting.
Facebook's stock tanked after the 2016 presidential election, as tech stocks took a beating (while everything else soared). But in the first two weeks of 2017, Facebook stock recovered, back up to about $11.48 a share. Since Zuckerberg has 410 million shares, that turns out to a $4.7 billion gain.
Should we care? Should we be amazed? To put $5 billion in context:
- The Green Bay Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys last night. Forbes says Zuckerberg's take in the first two weeks of this year would be almost enough to buy both teams.
- It's more than the GDP of 41 countries -- for the entire year.
- It's enough to give every man, woman, and child in the United States $15.
- It's half as much as Donald Trump's total net worth, according to his own calculations -- or about 35 percent more than his net worth, if Forbes's estimate is right. (Who knows, maybe that's "fake news.")
Every time I write about the amounts of money that the world's biggest titans gain and lose in a single day, it seems controversial even to bring it up. The comments pages go wild, both here and on Facebook.
Of course, in one sense, it's just the fluctuations of the market.
But then -- it's more money than you, or I, or almost anyone reading this article will ever see. And that's something worth noting.