More US Money is Printed Than MONOPOLY Money

February 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 14 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

I was reading a recent story on cnbc.com and one “fact” seemed particularly unbelievable. It stated that each year, Parker Brothers prints more MONOPOLY money than the US government prints real currency. They even went so far as to say, “You can bet your little, old shoe that money fact is true!”

CNBC, I will take your bet.

In my attempt to track down the truth, I found that this myth is very wide spread. It’s not just CNBC, dozens of other sites make the same claim. I’m not sure where all of these sites got their info, but I like to go to the source.

The US bureau of Engraving and Printing is responsible for printing paper currency in the US. Their website has a page that details exactly how much currency has been printed each year since 1980. It’s very detailed and includes 4 years when $2 bills were printed, totaling about 500 million $2 bills printed since 1980.

Another interesting fact appears at the bottom of that page: 26 million currency notes are printed each day, with a face value of approximately $974 million. In fact, CNBC has this fact on their page too. Although, they quote it as per year rather than per day. I will give them a bit of credit here, the sentence is confusing and could be interpreted as “per year”, but a quick scan of the page can easily correct that interpretation. For example, more than 974 million $1 bills were printed in 2010. Even more $100 bills were printed. So, it can’t be a per year number.

In 2009, the US government printed a total of $2.1 trillion and in 2010 it was just over $2.0 trillion. That’s a lot of money and 95% of it replaces old money that is worn out.

US Currency with Monopoly Money

Next, I tracked down how much money Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro, has printed. They started making MONOPOLY in 1935. Until 1998, $15,140 worth of MONOPOLY money was included in each game; current editions include $20,580.

Hasbro states that 250 million copies of MONOPOLY have been sold since 1935 (in 103 Countries and 37 languages). They’ve sold an average of 3.3 million copies per year. If we use the current edition, that would mean they print $67.7 billion during an average year.

At $2 trillion per year, the US government prints much more money than Parker Brothers. In fact, a few years of US currency printing exceeds all 76 years of Parker Brothers printing.

On the other hand, the US mint produces 14-20 billion coins per year. They don’t give a breakdown of the denominations, so it’s impossible to calculate the exact dollar value. Perhaps this myth started as a comparison to the number of coins the US Mint makes each year.

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Sources: Hasbro.com (faq, corporate info), US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, US Mint, CNBC, Wikipedia (Monopoly)

Entry filed under: Demystified, Despite Popular Belief. Tags: , , , , , , .

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mr Common Sense  |  February 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

    thanks for debunking this myth. Only a complete moron would actually have believed that more Monopoly money was printed than US currency.

    Reply
  • 2. Mr Common Sense  |  February 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

    PS. I am not one of those morons.

    Reply
  • 3. David Cain  |  February 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Nice work Chad.

    Now, if only I could buy the most expensive lot in town for $400. I guess Monopoly is not subject to inflation.

    Reply
  • 4. Jim  |  February 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Are the MONOPOLY numbers just form the copies of the normal MONOPOLY sold? Because there are a significant number of different versions.

    Reply
    • 5. Chad Upton  |  February 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      Yes, the 250 million copies refers to all copies of over 200 different editions, some of which don’t even have paper money (such as the debit version). So, my estimate of the amount of Monopoly money printed is a generous estimate, it’s likely a fair bit less.

      Reply
  • 6. sarahnsh  |  February 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I must say the new bills they made certainly looks a heck of a lot like monopoly money! I remember when they first came out and I wasn’t sure if it really was a bill or not.

    Reply
  • 7. Unintentnional Housewife  |  March 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    It makes sense that the US Treasury would print more money. Even when you spend Monopoly money, you can still re-use it next game. And since you can’t buy food or pay rent with Monopoly money, it’s got far more limited uses than “real” cash does. Of course, it sounds like such a cool statistic, I can’t blame people for perpetuating the myth. Have you thought about a guest appearance on MythBusters?

    Reply
  • 8. James A Batt  |  March 31, 2011 at 1:59 am

    This myth has bothered me for some time. Not because I care about which is true in the matter, but there is just something about it that is just tasteless. Maybe its just me. (don’t comment saying “its just you”) future jerk! And thank you future nice people!

    Reply
  • 9. print for monopoly money | Credit System  |  April 22, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    [...] More US Money is Printed Than MONOPOLY Money В« Broken Secrets Feb 4, 2011 … It makes sense that the US Treasury would print more money. Even when you spend Monopoly money, … [...]

    Reply
  • 10. Mateen  |  May 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for sarhnig. What a pleasure to read!

    Reply
  • 11. Keith Roberts  |  June 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Good job – about time this one was put to bed. However, methinks your calculator was a bit off. I put the US government output at about $220-240 billion per annum. For example, in FY2010, the dollar amount for $100 bills would total $190,270,000,000 ($190 billion). The $20 bills only account for a further $45,312,000,000 ($45 billion). So the total for all bill denominations is nowhere near $2 trillion.

    Reply
  • 12. NotQuite  |  December 5, 2012 at 2:05 am

    > current editions include $20,580

    Do better research next time before claiming to debunk something.

    In the “Here and Now” edition, the monetary values are multiplied by 10,000 throwing your calculations way off.

    Reply
  • 13. hidabhu  |  February 22, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Why do you assume it means monetary value? Certain monopoly editions have properties and bills worth millions. You should also examine this statistic from the side of quantity of notes not monetary value of the notes

    Reply
  • [...] is rising in costs thanks to the Fed currently printing more money than Monopoly does yearly ($2Tril approximation). I have been looking to cut corners and save money like everyone else. One of the little things [...]

    Reply

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