maggie rulli
November 6, 2013

Penny Problems


Scott: If you see a penny, do you pick it up? It is the only copper coin but it doesn’t work in any vending machine. Well, Maggie Rulli takes a look at why the penny may be running out of luck. 

Maggie: If I gave you this one penny, would you give me two of yours?

Teen: No.

Maggie: Why not?

Teen: I’m losing money at that point.

Maggie: Well, that is kind of what is happening with our currency. It costs more than two cents to make every one-cent penny. That is why some say we should just get rid of the penny and round up to five cents. But others think this plan sounds, well, like nonsense.

So why does it cost so much money to make money? To get some answers, we headed to the source of moneymaking. The U.S. Mint in Philadelphia is the largest mint in the world. These machines behind me crank out more than 35 million coins every single day. Now, that is a lot of change!

The first penny was initially inspired by Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s. And today, it still all starts out as an idea. Before a coin ever makes it to your pocket, it has to first be designed, and all that magic starts right here with a sculptor.

Don Everhart: We start cutting away…

Maggie: Don Everhart and Joe Menna are part of a team of sculptors at the United States Mint. Congress tells them what coins need to be made and it is their job to sketch out the idea.

Joe Menna: We’re executing laws when we do our job. Our ultimate boss is really the president, which is cool.

Maggie: And it was here that Joe designed the back of our current penny, and he even has proof.

Joe: My initials: JFM.

Maggie: I met the initials of the penny. I am, like, famous by association right now.

All designs are judged by a committee, and it is competitive to get yours chosen.

Don: Although I’ve worked on hundreds of designs, not all those got chosen.

Maggie: But with Don’s guidance, I gave it my best. Just so that everyone knows that it was me that designed it…MR.

What would the committee say about this design?

Don: It wouldn’t make it.

Maggie: Once an idea actually gets selected, it enters production. So we gear up and head to the only transfer engraving station in the United States. Here, they turn that coin design into the first tool of many in the coin-making process.

We are making money here!

My mold will go on to make anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 coins. If you are sitting in a classroom out there and have a Fort McKinley 2013 quarter in your pocket, there is a possibility that it is a Maggie original!

We are now ready to stamp out some money. We have just got to get the materials.

Congress decides what each coin is made out of, usually copper and nickel. Pennies are made out of zinc with a copper finish. First, circles, known as blanks, are punched out.

It is so loud and you can literally smell metal everywhere on the grounds here.

Then the blank coins get stamped with their design.

This machine makes 12 pennies every single second. That is 750 pennies in just one minute!

Each batch of coins is closely inspected. Once approved, the pennies are counted, bagged and sent all over the country.

So, is that portrait of Lincoln in your pocket worth all of that?

Teen: I think you should get rid of the pennies.

Teen: I throw pennies away because it’s useless. Like, it doesn’t do anything.

Teen: Because if you find a penny with the head faced up, it’s good luck.

Maggie: Canada recently joined the growing list of countries who have stopped production on their one cent coins, saying that it no longer made economic sense. But a recent poll found that more than two-thirds of people in the United States want to keep the penny. They warn that without this little guy, prices could be rounded up, making everyday goods more expensive.

And in the fight over the penny, everyone seems to be giving their two cents, even President Obama.

President Obama: Anytime we’re spending more money on something that people don’t actually use, that’s an example of something we should probably change.

Maggie: So, does a penniless United States lead to the change we need? Or does pinching pennies still make sense?

Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.

Scott: So, we want to know what do you think? Should the U.S. get rid of the penny? Head to and tell us what you think. You never know, we just might use your comment in tomorrow’s show.


24 comments on “Penny Problems

  1. Shauntina

    I think they should get rid of pennies because they take to long to count 100 pennies is $1.00 who do you know go count that many pennies out WOW! NOT ME so I would say throw them out

    1. Shauntina reed

      I think they should get rid of pennies because they take to long to count 100 pennies is $1.00 who do you know go count that many pennies out WOW! NOT ME so I would say throw them out

  2. Lauren Totherow

    I think that we should keep the penny because how are we going to make change without the penny. We could use the quarter,nickel,and dime but we need the penny if we would need to make 13 cents or something like that.

  3. ollie lyons

    I think they should throw away pennys because it takes for ever to count out 100 pennnies and i think thats just a waste opf time doing that so thats why they should get rid of pennys and go to 5 cents

  4. Amanda Warren

    Pennies should stay. When you have that 99 cent candy bar, pennies make it possible. Get rid of them, it would be rounded to a dollar plus tax. So you are saving money, not wasting it.

  5. Brianna-Robertson

    I don’t think they should get rid of pennies because when they round to the nearest nickel they will be losing more money by the rounding.

  6. Xavier

    i think we need to keep pennies because they can affect our life and it could bring us all good luck and taking away the pennies is like that taking away some of the world’s history

  7. Grace

    Even though it costs twice as much to make it, pennies should stay because they can be the difference between a fair price and overpaying. You know what they say; dynamite comes in small packages. :-)

  8. Jonathan Ross

    We may not see a stop in penny production any time soon, their may be a good chance we will see this come up in the future

  9. Brianna

    I think they should get rid of the penny because it really is worthless. If you were to add up how much money the U.S. has lost because of penny production it would be a lot!

  10. Patrice

    I think we should keep pennies because if we didn’t, 99 cents would become $1.05 since the nickel is the next coin up.

  11. Senior Quackers!!

    HI Channel 1 !!!! This is H.L Bourgeois from Houma, LA. we are the founders of the penny, we are so much against getting rid of the penny, there are resons why the penny was invented and its here to stay. If the penny is discountined we will all cry and regret it for the rest of all of our lives. The penny is a life saver for most and its very pretty(says the unicorn). The penny could acually save some peoples pockets on some occasions. Many people have traditions and love for the pennies, some even collect them, we cant stop the flow of what we have with the very first coin, itll Ruin everything. They think a penny is worthless because it isnt worth much but the penny is what got us here in the first place.

  12. lance comstock

    I do not think we should get rid of the penny because if you buy a drink and its $1.06 you will have to give them one dollar and a nickel but if there is no penny what will you use! that means the price will rounded up.

  13. chelsea coleman

    I like the pennies i like to see how old they are. As well as how many can make a difference in my spending coins from Canada just makes me think that that penny could have been in a rich mans pocket a hunter a fisher each penny makes me think from were it started to how it got to me as well as the scratches on then coins make me wounder how or what caused it so no i don’t think i could live with out them.

  14. Penny Pincher

    Keep the penny. Rare ones can be worth up to 1,000! Now tell me that pennies are worthless with a straight face.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>