‘Powerball Numbers,’ ‘Recession’ and More of the Most Searched Financial Terms on Google This Year

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Google’s annual “Year in Search” report offers a window into what stirred people’s imaginations and piqued their curiosity that year in America and across the world. 

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On Dec. 7, the biggest name in search released its 2022 edition. 

The report reveals the most-searched words in categories like “people,” “songs,” “recipes” and “passings.” There’s no category for financial terms specifically, but by browsing the top 10 lists, you can get a feel for the money-related hopes, fears, questions and dreams that compelled people to search for answers and information during this most peculiar and expensive year.

‘Powerball Numbers’

This red-hot, fantasy-fueled search term ranked at or near the top in several major categories, including “news” and “top searches.” In early November, America’s weeks-long Powerball fever broke when a single ticket in California won an eye-popping $2.04 billion jackpot. It crushed the previous record of $1.586 billion set in 2016, but in that case, three people split the cash value of $983.5 million.

‘Recession’

This one ranked among the top five most searched terms in the “definitions” category. In 2022, the economy suffered back-to-back quarters of negative GDP, high inflation, a bear stock market, rising interest rates and other major recession warning indicators. Fear of the worst ran high through the summer, but unemployment remained low throughout the year and so far, the economy has endured.

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‘Oligarch’

Also ranking high in the “definitions” category is “oligarch,” a term that describes an immensely wealthy and often corrupt business magnate who wields enormous political clout, particularly in Russia. Shortly after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February, the world met the assorted cast of shady oligarchs who propped up and colluded with the Russian strongman. Millions of pro-Ukraine people around the world watched with glee as friendly governments targeted and seized the oligarchy’s yachts, offshore accounts and real estate holdings.

‘Rupee’ 

The last financial term to rank in the “definitions” category top 10 is “rupee.” The Indian currency encountered intense selling pressure from what CNBC called “a perfect storm of global headwinds” that sent it falling toward record lows on two separate occasions this summer. Things got so bad that the Reserve Bank of India had to step in and take action to stem the tide of the rupee’s freefall depreciation.

‘Aaron Judge’

The Yankees signed superstar free agent Aaron Judge — AL MVP and newly minted home run king — to a nine-year, $360 million contract that will likely keep him in pinstripes for life. The contract is among the richest deals ever inked in baseball history. It — along with the magic of 62 — earned him the No. 4 spot in the “athletes” section of the rankings.

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‘Gas Prices Near Me’

In the “Near Me” section, the hunt for cheap gas beat out searches for nearby COVID-19 tests and voting locations to take the No. 1 spot in the category. Gas prices peaked above $5 in June and were responsible for a good chunk of the overall inflation that continues to grip the economy.

‘Inventing Anna’

“Inventing Anna” was the No. 4 most searched TV show in 2022. Based on the real life of a fake German heiress, the blockbuster Netflix series starred Julia Garner of “Ozark” fame as Anna Sorokin. Sorokin, the most successful and notorious grifter of the social media age, swindled her way through the upper echelons of New York high society, stealing more than $200,000 along the way.

‘Who Is Alex Jones?’

Alex Jones came in at No. 5 in the “Who is…” category, one in front of Jeffry Dahmer. The well-known conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host suffered a string of legal defeats that left him owing approximately $1.5 billion in damages to the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones used his platform to spread a false narrative that called the shooting a hoax and claimed that the victims’ parents and loved ones were paid “crisis actors.”

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Jones, who is still not out of the legal woods, filed for bankruptcy, claiming $1 million to $10 million in assets and $1 billion to $10 billion in liabilities.

The Entire Shortages Category

The Year in Search Report’s “shortages” category is always good for a reliable glimpse into the source of that year’s national purchasing anxiety. These most-searched terms reveal what American consumers were worried about running out of in 2022: 

  1. Diesel shortage
  2. Baby formula shortage
  3. Tampon shortage
  4. Adderall shortage
  5. Sriracha shortage
  6. Food shortage
  7. Cream cheese shortage
  8. Avocado shortage
  9. Lettuce shortage
  10. Epidural shortage

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.
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