No, Former President Obama Isn't Being Added to the $1 Bill

The $1 bill hasn't been changed since 1963.

ByABC News
February 3, 2017, 5:19 PM
Sheets of one dollar bills run through the printing press at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, March 24, 2015, in Washington, DC.
Sheets of one dollar bills run through the printing press at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, March 24, 2015, in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

— -- It would have been a major change for your wallet -- but the article isn't true. A fake news story making the rounds over the last week falsely claimed that former President Barack Obama will be replacing George Washington on the $1 bill.

It's not based on fact.

“We thought about creating a new denomination for Obama, but George Washington has had plenty of time in the sun,” says a “spokesperson” in the fake news story. Several versions of the article have appeared across the internet, showing that thousands of people have shared the story.

The post appears to have originally surfaced on a website called "Stuppid" in November 2014. It features a prominent Photoshopped image of former President Obama on a $1 bill. A disclaimer on that website says, "We aim to publish the stupidest, craziest stuff we can find." It appeared several times again in March 2015 and is making a comeback now on a site called True Americans.

The most recent version has inspired comments like "LEAVE THE MONEY ALONE!" and "this should not be allowed."

More than two-dozen sites known to carry fake news have picked it up, and other sites have posted the same story under a headline asking a poll question. No contact information was available for the True Americans website.

An administrator for Stuppid's Facebook page told ABC News that they didn't remember writing the article and that they no longer write fake news. It appears its most recent article was posted last May, though its Facebook page was active in December.

Here's how we know this article isn't real:

Living Presidents Can't Be on American Money

"The law prohibits portraits of living persons from appearing on Government Securities," says the Treasury Department's website. "Therefore, the portraits on our currency notes are of deceased persons whose places in history the American people know well."

All former presidents on common U.S. paper money -- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant -- are no longer living.

President Obama's Name Is Spelled Wrong in the Headline

One of the hallmarks of fake news stories, especially those written outside the United States, are misspelled words -- and this one is a giveaway. The headline says: "Barrack Obama Will Be On New $1 Dollar Bill 2017." The former president's name is Barack Obama, with one "R."

The article has other typographical mistakes, such as a missing period and missing spaces. The article, published two weeks ago on True Americans, also says Obama "still has a year left" in his term -- around the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The Federal Reserve Doesn't Design Money

The fake story cites a person named "John Apple" from the Federal Reserve as a spokesperson on the topic, adding that "people within the Federal Reserve" chose Obama over former President Ronald Reagan to be featured on the bill.

In reality, paper money is printed and designed by the U.S Department of the Treasury and its Bureau of Engraving and Printing, not the Federal Reserve. Once the currency is printed, the agency's website says, the bills are "transferred and securely stored in the Federal Reserve Vault for future pickup and distribution by the Federal Reserve Banks."

It Is True Other Currency Is Being Redesigned

Ironically, the $1 bill is one of the only major denominations of paper money that isn't currently being redesigned.

"I have directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate plans for the redesign of the $20, $10, and $5 notes," former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew wrote in April.

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman will be on the $20 bill, the department announced in April 2016. But the $5 and $10 bills will still feature Lincoln and Hamilton, respectively.

"We anticipate that final concept designs for the new $20, $10, and $5 notes will all be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote," Lew wrote.

There Are No Current Plans to Redesign the $1 Bill

Don't expect George Washington to leave the $1 bill anytime soon.

"Because the $1 note is infrequently counterfeited, the government has no plans to redesign this note," says the website of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

The $1 bill hasn't been touched since 1963. The $5, $10 and $20 bills were most recently resigned in 2008, 2006 and 2003, respectively, according to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The department says the new designs for those bills won't be finished for another three years.

ABC News has launched "The Real News About Fake News" powered by Facebook data in which users report questionable stories and misinformation circulating on the platform. The stories will undergo rigorous reporting to determine if the claims made are false, exaggerated or out of context. Stories that editorial partners have also debunked will then appear flagged in your News Feed.

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