Bill Gates, with an estimated net worth of $66 billion, could be Santa Claus one year and still have about $20 billion left over, according to calculations done by a Mid-Atlantic accounting firm.
ParenteBeard, a regional accounting firm with locations in MD, PA, NY, NJ and DE, took a number of expenses into account when estimating Santa's operating cost including elf overhead and reindeer costs.
In the end, they determined "Santa Inc." has an annual operating cost of about $42.3 billion based on the following calculations:
- Gift Production - $39.5 billion - It would cost Santa this to provide a $75 gift to all of the 526 million children in the world under the age of 14.
- Elf Salaries - $2 billion - ParenteBeard determined the average toymakers salary to be $35,859, but due to "Santa's kindhearted spirit" they assumed he'd pay his elves $40,000 per year. If he employed 50,000 elves to make the toys, his yearly payroll would about $2 billion.
- Health Benefits - $773 million - The firm estimated Santa's health insurance cost at $15,475 per employee.
- Electricity Costs - $98 million - ParenteBeard estimated Santa's workshop to be double the size of the largest manufacturing plant in the world, or 8.6 million square feet. According to the firm, the cost of electricity in the northernmost U.S. city is $0.12 per kWH and with the average plant using 95.1 kWH per square foot, they arrived at $98 million for Santa's plant's electricity costs.
- Reindeer Costs - $54,000 - The firm reviewed the cost of owning horses to determine the yearly cost of reindeer. So, with an average cost of $6,000 a year per reindeer, times nine reindeer (obviously including Rudolph) the firm arrived at the $54,000 figure.
The only thing they may have forgotten is that kids these days want $300 electronic gifts!