Exclusively Online | Fall 2021 Issue

“A Lighter Look” — A Plug Nickel

Rick Meyer’s regularly appearing column takes a lighter look at politics and public affairs around the world. This month: A Plug Nickel.

By Richard E. Meyer

It’s hard to know how much Donald Trump is worth. Even for his accountants.

In February, the Donald told The New York Times that he was worth $5.8 billion the year before he ran for president. He cited a “June 30, 2014 Statement of Financial Condition” prepared by his bean counters.

But back then, when he declared his candidacy, he had issued a “Summary of Net Worth as of June 30, 2014” saying he was worth $8.7 billion. Then, a month later, he released a statement that his net worth was “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” Emphasis his.

$5.8 billion?

$8.7 billion?


His accountants, Mazars USA, cut ties with him and said that nearly 10 years of financial statements prepared for him should “no longer be relied upon.”

“While we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies,” Mazars said, “based on the totality of the circumstances, we believe our advice to no longer rely upon those financial statements is appropriate.”

The Donald needed new number crunchers.

Any accountants who work for him should read his testimony during a lawsuit in 2007 over a book that suggested he was not really a billionaire. “My net worth fluctuates,” he said. “It goes up and down with markets and with attitudes and with feelings, even my own feelings.”


“I feel rich.”

“Mogul, how rich are you?”

“I feel like I’m the richest man in the world.”

“How rich is that?”

“Supercalifragelistic – extraslipperydocious – rich.”

“Are you a multibillionaire?”

“Look, Bean Counter, do you want this job?”

“Of course, Mogul.”

“Then don’t ask that question. There are 700 billionaires in this country, and I’m one of them.”

“But Mogul, exactly how rich are you?

“As rich as gold.”

“If I take this job, I will need to know accurately what you are worth.”

“You’ll never know. That’s my rule.”

“But . . .”

“I live by the golden rule. I have the gold. I make the rules.”

“You might not be worth a plug nickel. Do you know what a plug nickel is?”

“Yeah, it’s a nickel with a fake center.”

“Are you a plug nickel?


 IN 1987, THE DONALD WROTE in his book, The Art of the Deal:

“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration – and a very effective form of promotion.”

Truthful hyperbole?


The Last Laugh:

“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself as a liar.” – Mark Twain

Richard E. Meyer

Richard E. Meyer

Meyer is the senior editor of Blueprint. He has been a White House correspondent and national news features writer for the Associated Press and a roving national correspondent and editor of long-form narratives at the Los Angeles Times.

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