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Top-10 Inflation-Adjusted THON Totals

Every year, THON volunteers grace the stage to reveal the year’s fundraising total for THON in one of the most anticipated Happy Valley moments of the year.

Nearly every year, that number gets larger. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though.

At the first THON in 1973, Penn State students raised $2,136. That same year, the average price of a home was $26,800, according to the US Census Bureau. When THON raises more money than the year before, it’s declared a record. However, if the total increases by less than the inflation rate, that’s not true. So that got us thinking, which year had the actual best fundraising effort?

To find out, we collected all the fundraising totals since THON’s inception and discounted them back to 1973 dollars using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that tracks the purchasing power of the dollar year over year.

The baseline CPI for the year 1973 was 44.4, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. The bank lists the CPI for every year, and 2023’s CPI grew to 304.7 for a 586% increase in the 51 years of THON.

So, with all the totals even, we took a look at the top inflation-adjusted totals for THON to find out which year had the largest adjusted total.

10. 2017

  • Nominal total: $10,045,478.44
  • 1973 total: $1,819,743.95

9. 2019

  • Nominal total: $10,621,683.76
  • 1973 total: $1,844,359.64

8. 2011

  • Nominal total: $9,563,016
  • 1973 total: $1,887,940.91

7. 2020

  • Nominal total: $11,696,942.38
  • 1973 total: $2,006,739.73

6. 2012

  • Nominal total: $10,686,924.83
  • 1973 total: $2,066,635.29

5. 2022

  • Nominal total: $13,756,374.50
  • 1973 total: $2,086,720.29

4. 2023

  • Nominal total: $15,006,132.46
  • 1973 total: $2,186,650.09

3. 2013

  • Nominal total: $12,374,034.46
  • 1973 total: $2,357,970.52

2. 2015

  • Nominal total: $13,026,653.23
  • 1973 total: $2,440,436.30

1. 2014

  • Nominal total: $13,343,517.33
  • 1973 total: $2,502,966.50

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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