by Denise Hampson Thursday 15th December 2022
Imagine a huge truck full of cash driving down your street this weekend.
If you’ve seen any commercial TV in the last few weeks, you might have seen the adverts for the People’s Postcode Lottery in which Jason Donovan is driving an articulated lorry carrying £16.9 million. If you have a ticket and you’re lucky, it could be on its way to your house.
An entire truck full of cash.
We wondered why they chose a huge truck to be doing the delivery in the commercial. Possibly because £16.9 million is a lot of money and the lottery want to make sure you know it’s a LOT of money. A truck-sized amount.
Or is it?
Let’s forget for a moment that the most likely way you’ll get your winnings is by bank transfer, and let’s imagine Jason Donovan is indeed driving to your house with the cash… how big is £16.9 million in cash? How much space would it take?
Are you now beside yourself with curiosity? We’ve got you. At Desire Code we’ve been puzzling the very same thing… and we’ve had some fun working it out for you.
The first step in our calculation was to choose what type of cash we thought Jason would be bringing. £1 coins seems a bit too inconvenient for the winner. Imagine that with your winnings, you want to pay off your mortgage, or buy a new car. Hauling a massive bag of £1 coins to the dealership is going to take some effort. £50 notes, on the other hand, would probably have you pleading your case that you are not a money-laundering criminal every time you went to spend some of it.
We opted for the £20 note.
How big is a £16.9-million-big pile of £20 notes?
We made one more assumption - that they are pristine, new notes. Not bent and folded ones, like the one you found stuffed in your back jeans pocket last week, but pristine and perfectly flat.
£16.9 million is 845,000 x £20 notes
According to the Bank of England, the dimensions of a £20 note are 139mm x 73 mm x 0.113mm.
Working with this information we can calculate that £16.9 million would fit into a cuboid that is 119.4cm wide, 111.2cm deep and just 73cm high.
IT'S LESS THAN A CUBIC METRE! (0.969 cubic metres to be precise).
[The sound of underwhelmed sighs.]
Jason doesn’t need an articulated truck to deliver your money – a 5-door Mini will do the trick. At 0.941 cubic metres the carrying capacity of a 5-door Mini is almost big enough, granted with the back seats folded down flat. However, if we use the passenger seat and footwell for one last bag of cash then it would all fit.
There’s another snag… a cubic metre ish of £20 notes is surprisingly heavy. It would weigh just over 750kg, which is more than the carrying limit of most regular cars. So maybe he would need a van after all, but one that looks more like this…
It’s been a fun calculation to do, but it raises the question of why the commercial has Jason driving an articulated truck. The People’s Postcode Lottery know that £16.9 million is a lot of money, it sounds like a lot, and it is a lot, but for most of us it’s an incomprehensible amount. We can’t visualise it. It’s a number we need to translate. We can’t “feel” £16.9 million.
Showing us a huge truck appears to do that translation for us. Our subconscious minds take one look and think “it’s a truck load of money”, which is a more visceral, compelling idea. Having us think it’s load and loads and loads will make us feel more compelled to buy a ticket.
And actually, they really will just do a bank transfer.