Hoaxes & Rumors

Urban Legend: Samsung Paid Apple $1 Billion in Pennies or Nickels

Urban Legend: Samsung Paid Apple $1 Billion in Pennies or Nickels

After a court ruling in Apple’s favor, requiring Samsung to pay them $1.05 billion in a patent infringement case, rumors swirled that Samsung decided to send 30 trucks full of pennies or nickels in a spiteful move to pay up. Is this story true or false?

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It’s not true.

No major news organization ever reported such a story, and logistically it would be quite difficult for anyone to round up over a billion dollars in coins.

Even if the story were true, this prank would not affect Apple, but the banks counting these pennies on both ends of the prank.

The story originated in August 2012, appearing on this Spanish-language satirical website and in this humorous blog post. The Spanish-language website features other silly headlines, such as, “Scientists close to finishing mechanism that will encourage rotation of the Earth on weekends.”

Somehow this tongue-in-cheek story lost its humor in translation:

USA – This Morning arrived more than 30 trucks filled of 5 cents to the HQ of Apple, California. At first glance the security detoured the trucks and they assured they were on the wrong place, but minutes later, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) received a call from Samsung CEO that that is the payment method for the recent fine applied against the South Korean company.

The story showed up almost immediately after on the Paper Blog, with nearly identical wording. Note that the humorous story indicates 5-cent coins, but later versions stated that pennies were used.

The rumor began appearing in English – minus the satire – such as this site, which cites Paper Blog, without noting that it was posted in the “Humor/Satire” section of that site.

Problems with the story

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As this website shows, it would probably take less than 10 trucks to hold a billion dollars in pennies, but as far as weight goes, it has been argued that it may take hundreds of trucks to realistically haul that much weight. Either way, 30 trucks do not add up.

Another problem is that the fine wasn’t even even payable when the rumor first circulated because the case was still ongoing

It has also been argued that it is probably not feasible, if even possible, to round up $1 billion in pennies or nickels.

Penny Protests

Although rounding up a billion in coins may not even be possible, there have been such “penny protests” with smaller amounts. In July 2015, for example, a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte paid a $140 parking fine with 14,000 pennies. It took the staff nearly 4 hours to count.


The chart below shows search popularity for this topic, with a huge peak occurring in November 2013, nearly a year after this article was originally published.

Bottom Line

Samsung did not pay Apple $1 billion in pennies or nickels. The article originally posting this was written as satire, which was lost in translation.

It’s a funny story to consider, but it’s not true.

Updated July 14, 2015
Originally published August 2012

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