I’m an avid Olympics watcher, summer or winter, but I’m having trouble. As cute as Nikki Yanofski is, and as beautiful as the Olympic song may be, I’m starting to struggle with Believing.
We’ve been the source of humor on the American talk shows for our $113 million “Own the Podium” campaign– how un-Canadian of us! Pushy and confident. It’s our podium! Try to take it at your own risk! Under the big bucks of the OTP campaign, they’ve helped athletes, studied the science of the sports, supplied the most high-tech suits and equipment, done everything known to man to assure victories.
Doesn’t seem to be working out that way. Canada now has 8 medals, falling overnight to fifth place, far behind the US, which is having a great Olympics and has a present medal count of 23. Korea, which has largely owned the speed skating tracks, moved ahead of us in the medal count.
About two weeks ago, Bill Gates announced a long-term gift for funding childhood vaccines. Some people make headlines giving a hundred thousand dollars– a considerable sum– or on rare occasions by presenting a full million dollars. Far more impressive, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave what might be the largest philanthropic donation in history: ten billion.
That’s hard for us to comprehend. Even in digits, it staggers the mind: $10,000,000,000.00 (I added the cents, though somewhat meaningless at those rarified levels of finance). This will be over the next decade, and follows on the $4.5 billion they have already given over past years.
How much money do the Gates have? No one really knows, probably not even Bill. Probably enough to get a better haircut than he usually sports, but that’s not our focus. You and I might quickly calculate our “net worth” (or net debt) by adding what we currently have in the bank (including overdraft), adding on the value of a house, a car or two, subtracting off what we owe and hoping for a plus at the end of it. It gets a bit more complex at the Gates level. It would take a team of accountants a month to add and subtract what they are invested in, and the best they could do would be arrive at a moving figure that would be changing by the market minute. Someone once said Bill earned $800 a minute– I don’t know. I’ll call and ask.