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PolitiFact: Vern Buchanan right about debt's growth during Isner-Mahut tennis match

The statement

The national debt "has gone up by $1,729,000,000 during the Isner v. Mahut match."

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., in a Twitter post Thursday

The ruling

The mind-bogglingly long Wimbledon tennis match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut finally ended Thursday after 11 hours and 5 minutes. Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set.

Leave it to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who represents a Sarasota-area district not far from Isner's Tampa home, to turn this sports oddity into a political point.

After Isner won, Buchanan tweeted, "Think Wimbledon tickets are expensive? Our National Debt has gone up by $1,729,000,000 during the Isner v. Mahut match."

We decided to check his math. First we thought that what Buchanan meant by "during the Isner v. Mahut match" was the time between the first serve on June 22 and the final point on June 24, roughly 48 hours, or two days.

The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the president's budget, released in March, predicts a $1.368 trillion deficit for 2010. If you divide this by 365 days, you get an incremental, daily addition to the debt of $3.748 billion. Over two days, the total is $7.496 billion, more than four times Buchanan's estimate.

But an aide in Buchanan's office said that what Buchanan meant in the tweet was how much the debt had risen during the 11-hour, 5-minute match itself. (The match was suspended for darkness twice, and there were delays on the last day for extra rest time.)

So, using those parameters, the 11-hour debt increase works out to $1.718 billion.

Since the size of the federal debt is a moving target — and economists periodically re-evaluate its size — we'll grant Buchanan some leeway. While we think the wording of his tweet suggests the full 48-hour period, his 11-hour number strikes us as a reasonable estimate. So we rate his statement True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For more, go to

PolitiFact: Vern Buchanan right about debt's growth during Isner-Mahut tennis match 06/25/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 25, 2010 10:10pm]
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