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‘Last Week Tonight With John Oliver’ Lobbies to Phase Out the Penny [Watch]

First Posted: Nov 23, 2015 04:53 PM EST
John Oliver

Photo : Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

On Sunday, John Oliver broke down the true value of the penny and comically compared it to the cost of actually producing it.

Apparently, Americans today find less value in the penny than they do with the effort to possess it.

On the most recent episode of "Last Week Tonight," Oliver dove right into the controversy that surrounds the value of the American penny and what it costs American taxpayers to make each coin, as opposed to how much taxpayers really value the currency.

Here's a hint: It costs more to make a one cent penny than the penny is actually worth.

"It's true -- 1.7 cents to make one cent. That really makes the phrase, 'You have to spend money to make money' ring painfully true," Oliver said.

The outcome is that the U.S. spends around $136 million every year making $80 million in currency that Oliver says "no one really uses."

In a media report that he played during the segment, a TV news crew tried an experiment in which they placed 100 pennies on a sidewalk to see who would pick them up. Although some people did stop to look at the pennies, many did not make the effort to bend over and pick any up.

Oliver then reiterated the point using a Gallup poll from 2002, which concluded that 2 percent of people will actually throw their pennies in the garbage as opposed to carrying or saving them.

"Which means that the U.S. Mint is spending millions to make garbage -- and that's not their job. That's M. Night Shyamalan's job," Oliver said, accompanied by a graphic with Shyamalan posing in front of a poster for the Will Smith movie "After Earth."

The show also featured a U.S. law that says business owners are no longer required to accept payment in the form of pennies.

However, that rule did not apply to one man who received a parking fine as a UNC student worth $110. Oliver featured a story of the man who went to five different banks to collect 11,000 pennies, which he used to pay the ticket.

Watch the segment below:

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