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The Most Impressive Thing About All 50 States

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Every state in the Union has something to boast about. From their famous food to historic achievements, here are some of our favorites.

1. ALABAMA

The Vulcan statue in Birmingham was made for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and is the largest cast iron statue in the world. It weighs in at 100,000 pounds, is 56 feet tall, and wears an apron but no pants—a fact that inspired a song devoted to the statue's buttocks, "Moon over Homewood."

2. ALASKA

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At more than twice the size of the entire state of Rhode Island, Juneau—which is only accessible by plane or boat—is the largest state capital in the U.S. in terms of land area. Despite that size, its population is a mere 32,000.

3. ARIZONA

The only two places in the U.S. that still have mail delivered by mule are in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Helicopters can’t make the trip, and UPS and FedEx refuse to—so the USPS contracts with a group of mailmen to make the eight-hour round trip daily.

4. ARKANSAS

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The first woman elected to the U.S. Senate was Hattie Caraway, a Democrat who was at first appointed to her husband’s seat after his death in 1931. She then won on her own merit, getting 92 percent of the vote, in 1932. She served for 14 years.

5. CALIFORNIA

This state is home of the craft beer boom: There were over 700 craft breweries in the state in late 2016, with more opening every month. It’s now a $7.3 billion industry, producing over 100 million gallons a year, which breaks down to 21 pints a year for every single Californian.

6. COLORADO

In 1999, the town of Fountain was chosen as America's Millennium City. A sociologist crunched census data and determined that, out of every place in the country, Fountain was the closest to the average American melting pot.

7. CONNECTICUT

This state is home to the Hartford Courant, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. It was started on October 29, 1764 as the Connecticut Courant by printer Thomas Green, making it older than the U.S. During the Revolution, there was a paper shortage so severe that some issues were printed on wrapping paper.

8. DELAWARE

Bordering the Mason-Dixon Line with Maryland, this was an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Delawarean Thomas Garrett is credited with helping 2000 slaves escape, even though he lost his fortune doing it. Maryland authorities even put a reward of $10,000 out for his arrest.

9. FLORIDA

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Fort Zachary Taylor, located in Key West, Florida, was built starting in 1845 and named for the president after he died in office in 1850. In 1861, at the start of the Civil War, the Union seized the fort, and despite the fact that it was still unfinished and never saw combat, historians credit it with shortening the war by up to a year. At one point it was holding off 300 ships full of Confederate supplies.

10. GEORGIA

The voting age used to be decided by the states and was generally 21. During WWII this became controversial, since men were being drafted to fight and still couldn’t vote. Georgia was the first state to lower their voting age to 18, in 1943. The 26th Amendment wouldn’t be ratified until 1971.

11. HAWAII

What we think of as Hawaii is really just the eight main islands. In total, the state is made up of 137 islands spread over more than 1500 miles [PDF].

12. IDAHO

Located in the Nez Perce National Forest, Heaven’s Gate lookout is a small viewing area that allows you to see not only the deepest canyon in North America, but views of three other states: Washington, Oregon, and Montana.

13. ILLINOIS

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Chicago was the home of the world’s first skyscraper. Built in 1884-1885, the Home Insurance Building was a whopping 10 stories tall, or 138 feet—huge for the time. It was demolished in 1931.

14. INDIANA

The home of the Indy 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the biggest sporting venue in the world by a good margin. It has permanent seating for 257,000 people, and temporary on-field seating brings that up to 400,000.

15. IOWA

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Burlington is home to Snake Alley, what Ripley’s Believe It or Not called the “Crookedest Street in the World” (something the more famous Lombard Street in San Francisco also lays claim to). It was built in the 1800s to help horses get up a hill that was too steep for them to climb in a straight line.

16. KANSAS

Garden City, Kansas is home to a swimming pool so big it's possible to waterski in it (which has happened a few times as a promotional stunt). Opened in 1922, The Big Pool was renovated in the early aughts and is now the world's largest outdoor concrete municipal swimming pool. Bigger than a football field, it takes a full day to fill it to its 2.5-million-gallon capacity.

17. KENTUCKY

Bourbon, recognized as “a distinctive product of the United States” by Congress [PDF], was created in Kentucky. The state makes 95 percent of the world's bourbon supply—but its official drink is milk.

18. LOUISIANA

Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building—it's 34 stories and 450 feet tall.

19. MAINE

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This state is famous for its lobster for good reason: They catch 75 to 80 percent of the nation’s haul each year, or over 100 million pounds.

20. MARYLAND

In honor of native Francis Scott Key—who wrote the words to "The Star Spangled Banner" while watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor—the U.S. flag has flown continuously over his Maryland birthplace since May 30, 1949.

21. MASSACHUSETTS

The first book printed in what is now the U.S. was the Bay Psalm Book produced in Cambridge in 1640; a copy was sold for a record $14,165,000 in 2013. These days, the state is home to the second and third largest public libraries in the United States (the Boston and Harvard University Library, respectively).

22. MICHIGAN

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With more than 11,000 lakes and 36,000 miles of streams and rivers, Michigan is a state for water lovers. It touches four of the Great Lakes and no one standing in the state is ever more than 85 miles from one of them.

23. MINNESOTA

The Minneapolis Skyway is a system of enclosed pedestrian footpaths that cover 69 blocks over eight miles of the city. That way, people can walk around in comfort even in the dead of the very cold winters.

24. MISSISSIPPI

At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1963 and 1964, Dr. James D. Hardy would perform the first lung and animal-to-human heart transplants within the space of a year.

25. MISSOURI

Although we associate earthquakes with California, three of the 10 largest earthquakes in the contiguous United States happened in New Madrid in 1811-12.

26. MONTANA

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Here’s a state for those who love the cold. According to Guinness World Records, the biggest snowflake ever seen was one that fell at Fort Keogh in 1887; it measured 15 inches across. And the lowest temperature in the lower 48 states was -70 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded in Rogers Pass in 1954.

27. NEBRASKA

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln takes their sports seriously, as you can tell by their giant weight room, which, at three-quarters of an acre, is the largest in the country.

28. NEVADA

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Las Vegas is home to more than 150,000 hotel rooms, the most in any city in the world. And on the weekends they regularly hit more than 95 percent occupancy, so there is room for more.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE

Theodor Seuss Geisel—a.k.a. Dr. Seuss—got his start at Dartmouth College. He was in his junior year, working at the college's humor magazine, the Jack-o-Lantern, when he "discovered the excitement of 'marrying’ words to pictures," he later said. "I began to get it through my skull that words and pictures were Yin and Yang. I began thinking that words and pictures, married, might possibly produce a progeny more interesting than either parent." The Jack-o-Lantern is also where he first used "Seuss."

30. NEW JERSEY

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Blueberries were domesticated and first sold commercially in Whitesbog, New Jersey. Farmers did not believe the fruits could be domesticated, but Elizabeth White believed differently. In 1911, White—the daughter of a farmer—partnered with Frederick Coville, a botanist with the USDA, who had authored a paper called “Experiments in Blueberries.” Together they worked to create domestic varieties of blueberries by crossbreeding the best wild plants. They grew their first domestic blueberries the next year and sold their first commercial crop in 1916. White was dubbed the "Blueberry Queen."

31. NEW MEXICO

Every October, Albuquerque hosts the nine-day-long International Balloon Fiesta. Now in its 45th year, it's the world's largest ballooning event. In 2015, the festival had more than 955,000 guests and 547 balloon pilots from 17 different countries.

32. NEW YORK

The Adirondack Park in upstate New York was established in 1892 in order to preserve water and timber in the area. Today it covers 6.1 million acres, which is larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Parks combined, making it the largest park in the contiguous 48 states.

33. NORTH CAROLINA

Asheville is home to Biltmore, the largest house in America. The 250-room mansion was built over six years starting in 1889 by George Vanderbilt as a “country home.”

34. NORTH DAKOTA

The town of Rugby has laid claim to being the geographic center of North America for decades, but now the tiny town of Robinson 85 miles south is trying to usurp them. No matter what happens, it’s still in North Dakota.

35. OHIO

In 1835—just two years after its founding—Ohio's Oberlin College became the first in the United States to admit African American students. The college first admitted women into the baccalaureate program in 1837 (previously they had taken a "ladies course"), and in 1841, Oberlin became the first college to give bachelor's degrees to women in a coeducational program.

36. OKLAHOMA

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The world's first parking meter was invented by Carl C. Magee in Oklahoma City. The first model of the "Park-O-Meter" was displayed in May 1935; the meters charged a nickel an hour and were installed along curbs in July of that year. The first Park-O-Meter, which was placed on the southeast corner of First Street and Robinson Avenue, can these days be seen at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

37. OREGON

At about 1943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States. The lake, which sits in a caldera created 7700 years ago after the massive eruption of Mount Mazama, is fed mostly by snow; 538 inches fall every year. This means that the lake is very clear—most of the time, visibility extends to 120 feet below the surface, and scientists have reported being able to see as far as 142 feet down [PDF].

38. PENNSYLVANIA

Bethlehem is home to the Moravian Bookshop, the oldest bookstore in the country. Founded by the Moravian church in 1745, it moved to its current location in 1871.

39. RHODE ISLAND

This tiny state’s founder, Roger Williams, was kicked out of Massachusetts for his views on freedom of speech and religion. His views heavily influenced the founding fathers a century later when they incorporated those same ideas into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA

Inspired by the creation of the British Museum, the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773 and was America’s first museum. It first opened to the public in 1824 and has been open since then, with a brief pause when the Civil War got in the way.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA

The Crazy Horse memorial, carved into a mountain, was first envisioned in 1947. If and when it is finished, the monument will be 563 feet high, and be surrounded by the campus of the Indian University of North America.

42. TENNESSEE

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This state's Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a number of species, including some 1500 black bears—approximately two bears per square mile—240 species of birds, and 84 kinds of reptiles and amphibians. With 30 species of salamanders (including the massive hellbender, which can grow to be more than 2 feet long), it's earned the nickname "Salamander Capital of the World."

43. TEXAS

The state is so unfathomably large that El Paso, on the western border, is closer to San Diego, California than it is to Houston, on the eastern border.

44. UTAH

Sixty percent of people in Utah identify as Mormons, making it the most religiously homogenous state in the U.S. The temple in Salt Lake City took 40 years to build.

45. VERMONT

This state was the last one to get a Walmart, holding out until 1996 and only getting three more in the next 20 years. They still don’t have any Target stores.

46. VIRGINIA

Eight presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson—have been born in Virginia, more than in any other state. (Ohio, with seven, comes in second.)

47. WASHINGTON

Boeing’s Everett Site is the largest manufacturing building in the world. Workers arrived in January 1967 and started assembling the first planes as the building was literally constructed around them. The building itself opened on May 1 of that year.

48. WEST VIRGINIA

In 2014, 18-year-old Saira Blair won a seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates in a 63 percent to 30 percent landslide. It made her the youngest elected lawmaker in the country. The student—and fiscal conservative—has to balance her term with college, where she is majoring in economics.

49. WISCONSIN

After printing an ad in the local newspaper looking for people with similar ideas, Alvan E. Bovay planted the seeds for the Republican party in a small schoolhouse in Ripon, with the goal of ending slavery.

50. WYOMING

Before even becoming a state, Wyoming was striking a victory for women’s suffrage: The state's politicians passed a bill giving women the vote when it was a territory back in 1869. Wyoming became the first state in the nation to allow women to vote when it was admitted to the union 21 years later.

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11 Popular Quotes Commonly Misattributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald
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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a lot of famous lines, from musings on failure in Tender is the Night to “so we beat on, boats against the current” from The Great Gatsby. Yet even with a seemingly never-ending well of words and beautiful quotations, many popular idioms and phrases are wrongly attributed to the famous Jazz Age author, who was born on this day in 1896. Here are 11 popular phrases that are often misattributed to Fitzgerald. (You may need to update your Pinterest boards.)

1. “WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER.”

This quote is often attributed to either Fitzgerald or his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, who died in 1961. There is no evidence in the collected works of either writer to support that attribution; the idea was first associated with Fitzgerald in a 1996 Associated Press story, and later in Stephen Fry’s memoir More Fool Me. In actuality, humorist Peter De Vries coined an early version of the phrase in a 1964 novel titled Reuben, Reuben.

2. “FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE OR, IN MY CASE, TOO EARLY TO BE WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE.”

It’s easy to see where the mistake could be made regarding this quote: Fitzgerald wrote the short story “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 1922 for Collier's Magazine, and it was adapted into a movie of the same name, directed by David Fincher and starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, in 2008. Eric Roth wrote the screenplay, in which that quotation appears.

3. “OUR LIVES ARE DEFINED BY OPPORTUNITIES, EVEN THE ONES WE MISS.”

This is a similar case to the previous quotation; this quote is attributed to Benjamin Button’s character in the film adaptation. It’s found in the script, but not in the original short story.

4. “YOU’LL UNDERSTAND WHY STORMS ARE NAMED AFTER PEOPLE.”

There is no evidence that Fitzgerald penned this line in any of his known works. In this Pinterest pin, it is attributed to his novel The Beautiful and Damned. However, nothing like that appears in the book; additionally, according to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Association, although there were a few storms named after saints, and an Australian meteorologist was giving storms names in the 19th century, the practice didn’t become widespread until after 1941. Fitzgerald died in 1940.

5. “A SENTIMENTAL PERSON THINKS THINGS WILL LAST. A ROMANTIC PERSON HAS A DESPERATE CONFIDENCE THAT THEY WON’T.”

This exact quote does not appear in Fitzgerald’s work—though a version of it does, in his 1920 novel This Side of Paradise:

“No, I’m romantic—a sentimental person thinks things will last—a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t. Sentiment is emotional.” The incorrect version is widely circulated and requoted.

6. “IT’S A FUNNY THING ABOUT COMING HOME. NOTHING CHANGES. EVERYTHING LOOKS THE SAME, FEELS THE SAME, EVEN SMELLS THE SAME. YOU REALIZE WHAT’S CHANGED IS YOU.”

This quote also appears in the 2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button script, but not in the original short story.

7. “GREAT BOOKS WRITE THEMSELVES; ONLY BAD BOOKS HAVE TO BE WRITTEN.”

There is no evidence of this quote in any of Fitzgerald’s writings; it mostly seems to circulate on websites like qotd.org, quotefancy.com and azquotes.com with no clarification as to where it originated.

8. “SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, BUT NOT LIKE THOSE GIRLS IN THE MAGAZINES. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE WAY SHE THOUGHT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR THE SPARKLE IN HER EYES WHEN SHE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING SHE LOVED. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL FOR HER ABILITY TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE SMILE, EVEN IF SHE WAS SAD. NO, SHE WASN’T BEAUTIFUL FOR SOMETHING AS TEMPORARY AS HER LOOKS. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, DEEP DOWN TO HER SOUL.”

This quote may have originated in a memoir/advice book published in 2011 by Natalie Newman titled Butterflies and Bullshit, where it appears in its entirety. It was attributed to Fitzgerald in a January 2015 Thought Catalog article, and was quoted as written by an unknown source in Hello, Beauty Full: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You by Elisa Morgan, published in September 2015. However, there’s no evidence that Fitzgerald said or wrote anything like it.

9. “AND IN THE END, WE WERE ALL JUST HUMANS, DRUNK ON THE IDEA THAT LOVE, ONLY LOVE, COULD HEAL OUR BROKENNESS.”

Christopher Poindexter, the successful Instagram poet, wrote this as part of a cycle of poems called “the blooming of madness” in 2013. After a Twitter account called @SirJayGatsby tweeted the phrase with no attribution, it went viral as being attributed to Fitzgerald. Poindexter has addressed its origin on several occasions.

10. “YOU NEED CHAOS IN YOUR SOUL TO GIVE BIRTH TO A DANCING STAR.”

This poetic phrase is actually derived from the work of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who died in 1900, just four years after Fitzgerald was born in 1896. In his book Thus Spake ZarathustraNietzsche wrote the phrase, “One must have chaos within to enable one to give birth to a dancing star.” Over time, it’s been truncated and modernized into the currently popular version, which was included in the 2009 book You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks.

11. “FOR THE GIRLS WITH MESSY HAIR AND THIRSTY HEARTS.”

This quote is the dedication in Jodi Lynn Anderson’s book Tiger Lily, a reimagining of the classic story of Peter Pan. While it is often attributed to Anderson, many Tumblr pages and online posts cite Fitzgerald as its author.

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Fumbled: The Story of the United States Football League
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There were supposed to be 44 players marching to the field when the visiting Los Angeles Express played their final regular season game against the Orlando Renegades in June 1985.

Thirty-six of them showed up. The team couldn’t afford more.

“We didn’t even have money for tape,” Express quarterback Steve Young said in 1986. “Or ice.” The squad was so poor that Young played fullback during the game. They only had one, and he was injured.

Other teams had ridden school buses to practice, driven three hours for “home games,” or shared dressing room space with the local rodeo. In August 1986, the cash-strapped United States Football League called off the coming season. The league itself would soon vaporize entirely after gambling its future on an antitrust lawsuit against the National Football League. The USFL argued the NFL was monopolizing television time; the NFL countered that the USFL—once seen as a promising upstart—was being victimized by its own reckless expansion and the wild spending of team owners like Donald Trump.

They were both right.

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Spring football. That was David Dixon’s pitch. The New Orleans businessman and football advocate—he helped get the Saints in his state—was a fan of college ball and noticed that spring scrimmages at Tulane University led to a little more excitement in the air. With a fiscally responsible salary cap in place and a 12-team roster, he figured his idea could be profitable. Market research agreed: a hired broadcast research firm asserted 76 percent of fans would watch what Dixon had planned.

He had no intention of grappling with the NFL for viewers. That league’s season aired from September through January, leaving a football drought March through July. And in 1982, a players’ strike led to a shortened NFL season, making the idea of an alternative even more appealing to networks. Along with investors for each team region, Dixon got ABC and the recently-formed ESPN signed to broadcast deals worth a combined $35 million over two years.

When the Chicago Blitz faced the Washington Federals on the USFL’s opening day March 6, 1983, over 39,000 fans braved rain at RFK Stadium in Washington to see it. The Federals lost 28-7, foreshadowing their overall performance as one of the league’s worst. Owner Berl Bernhard would later complain the team played like “untrained gerbils.”

Anything more coordinated might have been too expensive. The USFL had instituted a strict $1.8 million salary cap that first year to avoid franchise overspending, but there were allowances made so each team could grab one or two standout rookies. In 1983, the big acquisition was Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, who opted out of his senior year at Georgia to turn pro. Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in a three-year, $5 million deal.

Jim Kelly and Steve Young followed. Stan White left the Detroit Lions. Marcus Dupree left college. The rosters were built up from scratch using NFL cast-offs or prospects from nearby colleges, where teams had rights to “territorial” drafts.

To draw a line in the sand, the USFL had advertising play up the differences between the NFL’s product and their own. Their slogan, “When Football Was Fun,” was a swipe at the NFL’s increasingly draconian rules regarding players having any personality. They also advised teams to run a series of marketable halftime attractions. The Denver Gold once offered a money-back guarantee for attendees who weren’t satisfied. During one Houston Gamblers game, boxer George Foreman officiated a wedding. Cars were given away at Tampa Bay Bandits games. The NFL, the upstart argued, stood for the No Fun League.

For a while, it appeared to be working. The Panthers, which had invaded the city occupied by the Detroit Lions, averaged 60,000 fans per game, higher than their NFL counterparts. ABC was pleased with steady ratings. The league was still conservative in their spending.

That would change—many would argue for the worse—with the arrival of Donald Trump.

Despite Walker’s abilities on the field, his New Jersey Generals ended the inaugural 1983 season at 6-12, one of the worst records in the league. The excitement having worn off, owner J. Walter Duncan decided to sell the team to real estate investor Trump for a reported $5-9 million.

A fixture of New York media who was putting the finishing touches on Trump Tower, Trump introduced two extremes to the USFL. His presence gave the league far more press attention than it had ever received, but his bombastic approach to business guaranteed he wouldn’t be satisfied with an informal salary cap. Trump spent and spent some more, recruiting players to improve the Generals. Another Heisman winner, quarterback Doug Flutie, was signed to a five-year, $7 million contract, the largest in pro football at the time. Trump even pursued Lawrence Taylor, then a player for the New York Giants, who signed a contract saying that, after his Giants contract expired, he’d join Trump’s team. The Giants wound up buying out the Taylor/Trump contract for $750,000 and quadrupled Taylor’s salary, and Trump wound up with pages of publicity.

Trump’s approach was effective: the Generals improved to 14-4 in their sophomore season. But it also had a domino effect. In order to compete with the elevated bar of talent, other team owners began spending more, too. In a race to defray costs, the USFL approved six expansion teams that paid a buy-in of $6 million each to the league.

It did little to patch the seams. Teams were so cash-strapped that simple amenities became luxuries. The Michigan Panthers dined on burnt spaghetti and took yellow school buses to training camp; players would race to cash checks knowing the last in line stood a chance of having one bounce. When losses became too great, teams began to merge with one another: The Washington Federals became the Orlando Renegades. By the 1985 season, the USFL was down to 14 teams. And because the ABC contract required the league to have teams in certain top TV markets, ABC started withholding checks.

Trump was unmoved. Since taking over the Generals, he had been petitioning behind the scenes for the other owners to pursue a shift to a fall season, where they would compete with the NFL head on. A few owners countered that fans had already voiced their preference for a spring schedule. Some thought it would be tantamount to league suicide.

Trump continued to push. By the end of the 1984 season, he had swayed opinion enough for the USFL to plan on one final spring block in 1985 before making the move to fall in 1986.

In order to make that transition, they would have to win a massive lawsuit against the NFL.

In the mid-1980s, three major networks meant that three major broadcast contracts would be up for grabs—and the NFL owned all three. To Trump and the USFL, this constituted a monopoly. They filed suit in October 1984. By the time it went to trial in May 1986, the league had shrunk from 18 teams to 14, hadn’t hosted a game since July 1985, kept only threadbare rosters, and was losing what existing television deals it had by migrating to smaller markets (a major part of the NFL’s case was that the real reason for the lawsuit, and the moves to smaller markets, was to make the league an attractive takeover prospect for the NFL). The ruling—which could have forced the NFL to drop one of the three network deals—would effectively become the deciding factor of whether the USFL would continue operations.

They came close. A New York jury deliberated for 31 hours over five days. After the verdict, jurors told press that half believed the NFL was guilty of being a monopoly and were prepared to offer the USFL up to $300 million in damages; the other half thought the USFL had been crippled by its own irresponsible expansion efforts. Neither side would budge.

To avoid a hung jury, it was decided they would find in favor of the USFL but only award damages in the amount of $1. One juror told the Los Angeles Times that she thought it would be an indication for the judge to calculate proper damages.

He didn’t. The USFL was awarded treble damages for $3 in total, an amount that grew slightly with interest after time for appeal. The NFL sent them a payment of $3.76. (Less famously, the NFL was also ordered to pay $5.5 million in legal fees.)

Rudy Shiffer, vice-president of the Memphis Showboats, summed up the USFL's fate shortly after the ruling was handed down. “We’re dead,” he said.

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