The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever

November 21, 2011 in Editorial

In the new Muppet movie, oil-man Tex Richman is the perfect enemy, as his plans to drill for oil involve razing, and therefore destroying, the Muppet Theater. Instead of wallowing in their grief, the Muppets decide to band together and plan the most spectacular telethon in the history of telethons in an attempt to raise enough money to keep the theater intact. With the help of Mr. Kermit the Frog, all of the recently separated Muppets come back as one whole to help the theater that they love so much. These Muppets reunite from jobs that span across many professions: Fozzie Bear is in a band, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a plumber. Can all of these characters successfully raise enough funds to keep their prized theater afloat?

This will most likely be the question on everyone’s minds as they watch the new Muppet movie unfold. However, what might not cross people’s minds is how the price of oil factors into their fundraising strategy, or how the employment (or lack thereof) of the Muppets will influence its overall success.

According to materials released by Disney the Muppets have to raise $10 million if they want to save the theater. If we assume that the costs of drilling are negligible then that means that the net worth of the oil underneath the theater is about $10 million. The average price of one barrel of oil is about $104. So there are 96,154 barrels of oil ready to be extracted from underneath the theater.

To put this number of barrels into perspective, the United States uses, on average, 19.6 million barrels of oil per day, meaning that the average US citizen consumes 0.065 barrels per day. Therefore, the barrels of oil under the Muppet Theater can support about 0.5% of the population – that’s 1.5 million Americans – for one day.

What if all of the Muppets working on the project each contributed to the fundraiser? Fozzie Bear, as a band member, earns an average salary of $14,400 a year. Miss Piggy, as a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue, earns an average of $65,000 a year. Because Animal is in anger management, we can assume that he does not earn a salary. Gonzo the plumber earns about $40,285 per year. Put together those three would have to give up their entire salary for the next 83 years if they wanted to raise $10 million. More realistically we know that the average American donates about 4% of their income to charity every year. If each of the Muppets donate 4% of their salaries to the telethon cause, all of their donations together equal: $4,787, meaning that they still have to raise $9,995,213.

For a very popular Telethon, about 40 million Americans tune in for about 2.5 hours, and raise approximately $60.5 million. If we boil this down to contribution per American, it appears that the average American contributes $1.50 to a telethon of 2.5 hours. Therefore, for the Muppets to be successful in raising their $9,995,213 to save their Theater, they will need about 6.7 million Americans to tune in.

Can the Muppets accomplish this feat? Well, the answer will be clear at the end of the new Muppets Movie. But now you have the statistics to guide you through their process!

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