by Kathy Wolfe

Can you really wrap your mind around how much one million is? This week, Tidbits hopes to put this number into perspective for you by presenting a variety of “a million” things!

One million is written as the number one followed by six zeroes. It’s equal to one thousand thousands. It’s the square of 1,000 (1,000 x 1,000) and the cube of 100 (100 x 100 x 100). It takes 694.5 days for one million minutes to elapse, with one million seconds the equivalent of 11.57 days. In Roman numerals, it’s depicted with the letter M with a bar above it.

How long does it take to count to one million? It took the record holder, Jeremy Harper, 89 days of counting out loud to reach a million, nearly three months. From June to September of 2007, Harper spent 16 hours every day counting out loud to attain this milestone. He never left his house during the time period, and took breaks just to eat and sleep. Harper didn’t labor at the task just for himself – he raised upwards of $10,000 for a charity that provided financial aid for the disabled.

    Taking a road trip? Conventional car tires will rotate a million times by the end of about 1,200 miles (1,900 km).

We don’t know how fast Les Stewart of Australia types, but it took him 16 years to type to one million, a feat undertaken from 1982 to 1998. Les typed about three pages a day with one finger, 20 minutes every hour. He didn’t take the easy way out – he typed all the numbers in words, not numbers on his manual typewriter, typing “nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine” and “one million” for his final entries on November 25, 1998. Typing isn’t the only record Stewart set. Years before, he had already broken Australia’s record for treading water and set another new Australian record when he swam continuously for 30 hours.

Eleven countries around the world have cities with a million or more people. China has the most, 102 cities there with a population over a million. Ten of those have over ten million residents! Forty-six cities in India have reached a million people, 17 in Brazil, 15 in Russia, and 12 in Japan. The United States now has 10 cities with a population exceeding one million. California and Texas account for six of these, with three cities each. Rome was the first city to reach one million people, way back in 133 BC. It took nearly 2,000 years before the next city attained that number, London in 1810. New York City achieved that status around 1873, the first U.S. city to make the mark.

    There are about 56 million millionaires in the world. Of these, nearly 40% live in the United States, 9.4% live in China, with Japan home to 6.6%. New York City alone has nearly one million millionaires, more than any other city in the world. About 580,000 millionaires live in Los Angeles. It’s estimated that 84% of millionaires are college graduates.

• What does a million dollars look like? A stack of one-dollar bills, each with a thickness of .0043 inches, would measure 4,300 inches (358 feet). That’s about the height of a 30 to 35-storey building. If you were to use $100 bills, you’d need 10,000 of them, a stack that would measure 43 inches.

    If you took the time to stack one million pennies on top of each other, the tower would be almost a mile high.

    Take a million dollars and divide it evenly among all U.S. residents. What would each receive? About one-third of one cent.

    The Ford Motor Company introduced its Model T in October, 1908, with a price tag of $850. Customers could choose gray, green, blue, or red. In 1914, in an attempt to lower the price, Henry Ford changed the color of all Model T’s to black, resulting in his famous quote, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants – so long as it’s black!” After seven years of production, Ford sold its one-millionth Model T in 1915, the first car to reach this milestone. By the time the last Model T rolled off the assembly line in 1927, 15 million had been sold.

    Marlon Brando was the first actor to receive $1 million for a film role, that of Fletcher Christian in 1962’s “Mutiny on the Bounty.” But by the time he collected $5,000 a day for the shooting running over schedule, Brando had collected over $1.2 million. He used some of his earnings to buy an island near Tahiti. The next year, Elizabeth Taylor became the first actress to capture the $1 million in her role as “Cleopatra.”

•    Seinfeld has been dubbed “the show about nothing.” But it can also be called the first television series in which the star earned $1 million per episode. During the show’s first season in 1989, Jerry Seinfeld was earning $20,000 per episode. That was doubled to $40,000 for seasons 2 and 3, and hiked to $100,000 for 4, 5, and 6. Jerry’s salary was $500,000 per episode for seasons 7 and 8, and for the final season, the $1 million mark was hit. When you add it all up, the total for 180 episodes was nearly $60 million! The $1 million per episode record held until 2002 when each of the cast members of Friends pushed for and received that amount.

    Adele’s megahit song “Hello” was the first song ever to sell a million downloads in a week, topping 1,112,000 in the week of its 2015 release. But the honor of a singer being the first to reach one million copies of a record sold happened long before! In 1902, Italian operatic tenor Enrico Caruso’s “Vesta la guibba” from the opera “I Pagliacci” became the first record to sell a million copies.

The first American novel to sell a million copies was Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel published in 1852. Sales on its first day were 3,000, achieving 300,000 copies in the first year. The book was the 19th century’s second best-selling book, with only the Bible surpassing it. It’s rumored that when President Abraham Lincoln met Stowe in the 1860s, his comment to her was, “So this is the little lady who started this Great War.”