The O.J. Simpson verdict has been called one of the most-watched events in television history.
Anywhere from 95 million to 150 million people tuned in to watch the verdict live, and an unbelievable number of activities were put on hold while the decision was announced.
Simpson, a famous football player who was accused of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman, was acquitted of the murders 20 years ago this Thursday.
Americans were obsessed with the nationally televised trial, which involved emotionally charged issues like racism.
Here’s how day-to-day life in America was put on hold while the verdict was being read (from attorney and Harvard professor Alan M. Dershowitz’s book “America on Trial“):
- Long-distance telephone calls dropped by 58%
- Electric consumption surged as Americans turned on their televisions
- Water usage decreased because people were reluctant to go to the bathroom and miss the verdict
- Trading volume dropped 41% on the New York Stock Exchange
- Government meetings were delayed
- Press conferences were postponed
- The president left the Oval Office to watch the verdict with his staff
- Supreme Court justices hearing a case arranged to have notes passed to them alerting them of the verdict
- Productivity plummeted in many workplaces around the country, costing about $US480 million in lost output
Even students were watching the verdict during school hours. Business Insider’s Senior News Editor Erin Fuchs said her classmates remember televisions being wheeled into the lunchroom and classrooms of her high school in Georgia so that they wouldn’t miss out. Deputy Editor Julie Zeveloff remembers the same thing happening in her elementary school in New Jersey.
Since then, other high-profile cases have captivated Americans, but nothing has come quite close to the Simpson trial.
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