How Much Money You Need To Realistically Recreate The Scrooge McDuck ‘Gold Coin Swim’

After executing smart mortgage derivatives and diversifying high yield stocks, cash should start flowing freely, leaving the smart investor with even more questions, like “how do I protect my municipal bonds?” and, “should I invest in a C-Share or blend fund?” and, “how much money do I need to create giant floes of gold in a private vault and dive into it like Scrooge McDuck?”

In most money circles (insider tip: “money circles” is a term used by only the most elite investors), wealth is measured exclusively by how closely one can recreate this famed animation. It has come to represent success in America and anything less than doing the backstroke amongst a sea of Earth’s rarest metal should be considered an abject failure. A main problem of this measure, however, is that there is no agreed-upon Scrooge McDuck quantity of gold. In order to give the young investor a goal to shoot for, and to clear up this age-old question once and for all, the following is a precise judgment of exactly how money you need to be successful. 

Looking at some of the best pictorial evidence of the McDuck vault, it is evident that this large pile of gold on the left appears to be five feet tall. This is deduced under the assumption that the average duck 14 inches tall, which is then used comparatively to quantify the pile (5 ft = 4.3 duck heights). With a little calculus and graph-work, the rough integral can pinpointed to y=-x2-1x+5.  This equation puts every “x” and every “y” value at exactly one inch, as seen below.

When the area under the curve is calculated (from x=-3 to x=5), it yields roughly 46 square inches. The assumption will be made here that one cubic inch is roughly one ounce of gold. To convert that into a dome shape the value is simply cubed, which becomes 97,366 ounces. Given that 1 ounce of gold is roughly $5.00, it can extrapolated that each large pile of gold in the vault is worth $486,830.

However, Scrooge McDuck was first drawn in 1947, therefore inflation must be adjusted for which totals a whopping 5.2 billion dollars per pile. In the picture, there are two smaller piles which roughly equal the larger doubling the total to 10.4 billion. However, the shadows in the corner suggest that the room is a least three times as large as it is. Therefore, Scrooge was privy to a cool 31.2 billion dollars.

This means that only the six richest people in the world could afford to pull off the Scrooge swim.

Swimming in gold truly is a marker for success, but for the world’s big wigs, there are goals beyond even this. Another famous picture of Scrooge McDuck skiing down a mountain of money is even more alluring still.

Calculating his velocity (roughly 5 m/s2) suggests that this mountain (of which we cannot see the summit) has a slope of 35 degrees, putting a rough estimate of the entire hill at 73.5 billion. Is it possible that McDuck pushed together his wealth to make this monstrosity? In theory, yes, but the eye line of McDuck (fixed at 8 degrees above the horizon relative to the slope) suggests that there are at least two other such mounds, putting his total wealth at over 210 billion, and well beyond the meager 70 billion of richest man in the world Carlos Slim Helu. It’s also heartening to see cash in this picture, as a diverse portfolio is always a successful one.

If you follow the rules of global trends, equity markets, and grizzled anthropomorphic birds, you will be well on your way to a swan (or shall we say “duck”) dive into nearly limitless gold.


Matt Powers is in his early twenties-ish. He is also good at making up fake math.


48 Comments / Post A Comment

jeremy (#505)

“1 ounce of gold is roughly $5.00″

You’re off by a couple orders of magnitude there.

Ed@twitter (#347)

also velocities generally have units of m/s rather than m/s2 (which would be the derivative of velocity (with reference to time), otherwise known acceleration)

Okay the first person to figure this out with real math and not fake math gets to dive into Mike Dang’s pool of gold coins.

spoondisaster (#512)

This was so excellent. Thank you for writing this!

Cubing the area? Only if Scrooge has a six-dimensional pile of gold. Even for fake math, that’s pretty lame. Don’t quit your day job, Matt.

@Jim Demers@facebook Well, apparently there is some kind of multidimensional shit going on here, because “the shadows in the corner suggest that the room is a least three times as large as it is.”

So… using the dimensions of the money bin from, and knowing from various screen caps that it was only filled to the 90′ mark, and assuming that the money bin was filled with 1oz gold coins (and not a mix of regular currency), you can easily compute volume and thus maximum potential value:

90ft stack of 1oz gold coins: 90*12/.113 = 9557.52 coins
120ft row (width & depth) of 1oz gold coins: 120*12/1.287 = 1,118.88 (each way)

Optimized fill (stacked, not random – all space taken): 9,557.52 * 1,118.88 * 1,118.88 = 13,508,939,494 coins

At $1600/coin = $21,614,303,190,400 ($21.6 trillion).

The problem, well, A problem (among many) with this is that the value of ALL of the world’s gold currently mined doesn’t exceed $5T (

And it also can’t all be US money, either, as the total value of EVERY SINGLE COIN AND PAPER DOLLAR in the US as of 2009 is only $3.3T (

But hey… a duck can dream, can’t he?

You sir, are an incredible person. Thank you.

cspw (#524)

@Jeff Gordon@twitter

But wait. Scrooge McDuck is, well, a duck. So perhaps it wouldn’t be a stretch to interpret the feet as “duck feet”. Assuming the average man is 6ft tall and the average duck is, let’s say 1 foot tall, then the dimensions of the bin can each be reduced by 1/6th and therefore your total value of $21.6T can be shrunk by (1/6)^3 making the total value a more realistic $100 billion.

riotnrrd (#40)

Another obvious problem, besides containing four times the world’s supply of gold, is that the filled vault would contain 850 million pounds of gold. Spread over a surface area of 14,400 sq feet, that’s 58,611 lbs/sq ft or a little less than 30 tons per square foot. That’s got to be a pretty damn strong vault floor. But I suppose he could afford it.

@Jeff Gordon@twitter has got to be one of the greatest and most epic works of futile insanity ever put into language.

Cup of Cactus (#789)

@Jeff Gordon@twitter Late to the party here, but I wanted to share my admiration. However, your last step, figuring out that it could not be US currency, is a bit off. You applied the volume value of gold bullion to the volume value of a mix of coinage. A mixture of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins would certainly take up more volume than the equivalent value in bullion. And we know that at least one of the coins in the vault is a dime. (See

Tightwad (#519)

I assume that the writer is not familiar with the actual comic book stories of Scrooge, which are ~30 years older than Ducktales. His Money Bin holds all of cash, which doesn’t actually circulate. Also, measuring velocities with m/s2 as a unit?

Tightwad (#519)

*his ‘hard’ cash

Liked this article. Enjoyed the comments. And loved that no one has pointed out that diving into a pile of metal discs is a good way to break one’s neck. Unless you’re a cartoon duck.

Great article. Just ignore the pendants.

However, one cubic inch of gold weighs 10.1788 oz Troy, not one ounce.
Gold in 1947 was about $38 oz Troy.
The optimum packing fraction for coins is about .9 (90% of a space will be occupied by coins, the remaining 10% by air, there’s no way around it) so you have to multiply the volume of the hill by .9 to find the volume occupied by coins.

Not to pile on the pedantry here, but francium is Earth’s rarest metal. Only you couldn’t swim around in it, because only about 30g exist in the entire Earth’s crust at any moment, and it would quickly vaporize itself (and you).

Torsten Adair (#742)

Ah, but the money in the Money Bin is not all gold…. it’s Scrooge McDuck’s personal money collection! Every coin in that bin relates to a particular adventure (W OS 386-02). It is not his entire net worth. He also can tell the personal history of each coin, and its exact location in the bin. (KD 0190)

Any Scrooge scholar knows that his net worth is “nine fantasticatillion, four billion-jillion, centrifugalillion dollars and sixteen cents”. (W WDC 155-01)

And that he was “smarter than the smarties and tougher than the toughies, and [he] made it square!” which most 1%ers can’t claim.

Since it contains a variety of coins and bills, the actual worth is much more, as some of the coins are quite rare in circulation. (Well, not really… Scrooge has numerous copies and could flood the market. But that’s the plot for “Money Pit” mentioned above, recycled/reworked from “The Trouble With Dimes”.)

For more on the money bin, Keno Don Rosa, civil engineer, drew up blueprints for the Money Bin on Killmotor Hill, and wrote an excellent story involving the Money Bin as a character vs. the Beagle Boys.

There’s also this: … 185120037/

And…The Forbes Fictional Fifteen!
(The Beatrix will enjoy #1!)
In 2011, Scrooge had a net worth of $44.1 Billion.

This might give a better estimate of the value in the vault

I recently ran my hands through a pile of pound coins and I can share this stern warning – if you dive in like Scrooge McDuck you’ll break your fingers.

Having said that, I firmly believe we could make this happen in reality.

PiNPOiNT (#763)

Wouldn’t jumping into a pile of coins be equivalent to diving into concrete?
“Somebody is going to get hurt real bad” — Russell Peters.

Harry Brown (#1,095)

@PiNPOiNT you’re right there! I can’t see much movement in a pile of coins. Its going to be a sore one for sure! :)

Where do I find this $5.00/oz gold? I’d be as rich as Monsieur McDuck if I just sold it back at the REAL price of gold somewhere around $1,500 an ounce : )

Harry Brown (#1,095)

The answer is “too many”. I wish I had that many gold coins. It would be nice to have a hand basin fool of gold coins, never mind a bath. I collect gold sovereigns but only have a handful. If you like gold coins you should check out this site it is all about one of the Worlds most famous gold coins.

davidqd (#4,479)

However, your endure step, figuring out that it could not be US currency, is actually a bit off. You used the volume value of gold bullion in order to the business blog worth of a mix of coinage. A mixture of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, plus dollar coins would certainly take upwards a lot more volume than their equivalent value in bullion. And we know that at least single of that the coins within the vault is a dime.

Robert Rich (#6,235)

How about a remake of this article, covering how to recreate the Scrooge McDuck swim using bitcoins instead? He’s just be sitting there with a couple of USB drives, staring bored ;)

Robert Rich (#6,235)

Actually, Scrooge would die from being crushed by the weight of the gold:

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