How Many Apples Could Apple Buy With Its $145 Billion?

Answers to your questions about the news.
April 24 2013 5:47 PM

How Many Apples Could Apple Buy?

What $145 billion gets you in airplanes and artwork.

The Apple logo hangs in a glass enclosure above the 5th Ave Apple Store in New York, September 20, 2012.
There are only 31 companies in the world Apple couldn’t (theoretically) buy with its stockpile of cash

Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Apple revealed Tuesday that it is sitting on a pile of cash—$145 billion, to be precise—and the company is planning to flush out some of it to shareholders in a manner carefully structured to minimize its tax burden. The staggering wealth Apple has accumulated leads Explainer to wonder about wildly hypothetical scenarios by which Apple could spend its money. For example, how many apples could Apple buy?

Approximately 45 apples for every person on Earth. Red Delicious apples cost an average of $1.39 per pound in the United States, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are about three apples in a pound. So assuming an infinite supply of Red Delicious apples, Apple could distribute 45 apples to each member of the world’s population of 7 billion. Those apples would fill up about one-three-thousandth of the Earth’s volume.

There are only 31 companies in the world Apple couldn’t (theoretically) buy with its stockpile of cash, although companies aren’t usually sold at their market price. Other armchair CEOs have advised Apple try to acquire Netflix or Visa or the nation of Hungary, but it’s doubtful either of those companies would settle for a measly $145 billion, and countries aren’t technically for sale.


The cash could buy 38.8 billion gallons of regular unleaded gasoline, or enough to fill up 2.9 billion Honda Civic gas tanks or 1.49 billion Ford F-150 tanks. Apple could alternatively buy 132 million VIP passes to Beyoncé’s show at the Verizon Center, for more than 1 in 3 Americans. The company could give $2.3 million to each of the 62,619 estimated homeless veterans living in the United States. It could administer polio vaccines to 290 million people—the combined population of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries where polio rages on. The company could buy all the art in the Louvre 1.5 times over. It could acquire 290 Airbus A380 double-decker private jets, which seat 525 passengers, such as the one bought by Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Or the company could send 95,000 employees, one-sixth of its total in the United States, on a two-year, globe-trotting luxury vacation. Here are some more laugh-to-keep-from-crying stats about Apple’s wealth.

$145 Billion of Apple's cash could buy 290 Airbus A380s.

Illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo and Illustration of an Airbus by iStockphoto

Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer.

Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories to the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 22 2014 8:13 AM Good Teaching Is Not About Playing It Safe Classroom technology can make learning more dangerous, and that’s a good thing.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.