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2018 in review: When big news comes in small packages

These large-but-little numbers shaped 2018.
Illustration of the small numbers that made big news in 2018.
George Wylesol / for NBC News

The bigger the number, the bigger the headline?

From $25 million bonuses to $20,000 bitcoins, the largest numbers sometimes command the most attention.

But big news also arrives in small numbers. Like the number of times Mark Zuckerberg apologized to Congress (12). These figures might not be as sensational, but their significance helped shape the past year.

So, with that in mind, here is a small number of small numbers that had a big impact in 2018.

  • 1 American-crowned princess
  • 8 school shootings resulting in 28 killed and 35 injured
  • At least 1 person killed by a self-driving car
  • 10 states have legalized marijuana, as of Michigan in November
  • 12 boys rescued from a cave in Thailand
  • 3-10 years: Bill Cosby's prison sentence
  • 1 town decimated by the California wildfires
  • 0 times a U.S. president had met with a North Korean leader before 2018
  • 41 GOP House seats flipped by Democrats in the midterm elections
  • 9 hours of Senate testimony delivered by Brett Kavanaugh
  • 9 gold medals won by the USA team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics
  • 74 hot dogs eaten by the winner of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest
  • 2 companies were valued at $1 trillion for the first time
  • 12 times Mark Zuckerberg apologized to Congress
  • 3 months: How long the Mega Millions jackpot dragged on
  • 162 confirmed alien planets discovered
  • 1 duck in New York City made national news
  • 0 new "Game Of Thrones" episodes


  1. Forbes

  2. NBC News

  3. Vox

  4. Governing

  5. The Guardian

  6. NBC News

  7. NBC News

  8. Time

  9. Axios

  10. NBC News

  11. Time

  12. CBS Sports

  13. NBC News

  14. Washington Post, CNN, Wired, Quartz, The Verge

  15. CNBC

  16. The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia

  17. BBC News

  18. HBO

See NBC News' 2018 in photos here.