According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the total price tag for the 2012 elections — not just the race for the White House, but congressional contests as well — could go as high as $5.8 billion, a staggering (and slightly depressing) figure no matter how you slice it.
In short, it costs a ton of cash to get elected these days. And while, sure, campaigns are an integral part of our democracy, we couldn't help but think that the money the Dems and Republicans tossed around could have been put to better use. So we've fired up the ol' calculator and figured out what else $5.8 billion would buy you — aside from an address in Washington, D.C., that is.
» 23.2 million copies of the "executive platinum" edition of Rihanna's Unapologetic album, at $250 a pop. That's a whole lot of "limited-edition lithographs."
» 9 Barclays Centers, with an estimated construction cost of $637 million per arena. At that rate, Jay-Z would be working overtime to find more NBA franchises to relocate to Brooklyn. Speaking of which ...
» 14 NBA franchises could be bought with the amount of money spent in the 2012 elections, given that the average value of a team these days is $393 million.
» 16.62 million three-day passes to Coachella 2013 (at $349 per pass). Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza haven't announced their 2013 prices just yet, but based on last year's numbers, $5.8 billion would get you 22.31 million four-day passes to the 'Roo and 27 million three-day passes to Lolla. Bring some friends!
» 82,857 Campagna T-Rex motorcycle/sports car hybrids, the same thing Nicki Minaj got Lil Wayne for his 30th birthday. Finally, your chance to outshine the Queen of the Barbz.
» 73,417,721 bottles of Lady Gaga's Fame perfume, or nearly 250 million ounces of the black liquid, with fragrance notes of "blood and semen."
» 892 Justin Timberlake/ Jessica Biel weddings. Even if the reported $6.5 million cost of their Italian nuptials is probably bogus, $5.8 billion would certainly pay for a lot of cake.
» 11,600 Justin Bieber/ Selena Gomez Staples Center dates. You remember last year, when the Biebs rented out the L.A. arena for dinner and a private screening of "Titanic" for his boo? Well, he shelled out a cool $500,000 for the night ... which, given how much the 2012 election costs, is practically a steal.
» 223,673,469 pairs of Kanye West's "Air Yeezy 2" Nikes — though, given how quickly they sold out this summer, well, good luck finding them anywhere.
If you're going the more practical route, here are a few other places you could splash that cash:
» One year's tuition (approximately $22,092) for about 270,000 students at a four-year college.
» A semester's worth of textbooks ($650) for about 9.23 million college students.
» Erasing student loan debt ($26,600) for about 227,000 college grads.
» Preschool ($9,000) for around 650,000 low-income children.
» One year's salary ($56,069) for 107,000 public school teachers.
» Or, if all this just makes you hungry, about 9 billion White Castle (99 cents) burgers.
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