Can You Really "Plank on a Million"?

Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 24 2011 3:12 PM

Can You Really "Plank on a Million"?

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Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images


Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne continues to rule the Billboard charts, having sold enough copies to certify it as gold as its Riccardo Tisci-designed cover. Much has been made of the album’s gross materialism, which sees the rappers namedropping “Benzes, Louboutins, Basquiats, and sundry other signifiers of wealth” as Seth Colter Walls described it in Slate. But perhaps the rappers’ most extravagant display of wealth comes when Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter brags of “planking on a million”—in other words, of his ability to rest face-down, hands at his sides, and stiff as a two-by-four on a million dollars in cash. Can you really plank on a million dollars?

Easily—as long as you use one of the smaller denominations. Ten $100,000 Woodrow Wilsons wouldn’t support the six-foot-tall rapper at all. Jay-Z could arrange ten thousand $100 bills (the preferred currency of rappers) into a suitcase-sized stack that would bear the hip-hop star, but the short pile wouldn’t look very impressive. If Jay wanted to achieve the kind of perilous heights that make for the best planking photos, only $1 notes would do the trick.

Every U.S. note is approximately .0043 inches thick, and a stack of a hundred notes is about .43 inches high. So using $100 bills, Carter could pile his cheese five bills wide and two bills long, or approximately 1.02 feet wide, 1.08 feet long, and 4.3 inches high. The stack would be about the size of a couple of reams of copier paper, and many have planked on less.

Using $1 dollar bills would, of course, make for the highest and most spectacular platform. A million $1 bills could be stacked into a single pile over 350 feet high (assuming it didn’t just blow over), or form a square-foot stack over 35 feet high. Still, if Jay wanted to plank with the full luxury of head, neck, and back support, even with singles he could only plank a few feet off the ground.

Toying with this kind of cash would be no trouble for the Roc-A-Fella mogul. The rapper and “business, man” is currently the biggest earner in hip-hop, pulling in an estimated $37 million in the past year alone. Planking on a million is easy—if you have the cash.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.