Everyone knows Mario collects gold coins. In this economy, you can’t blame him – but how much are they actually worth?
Can we take that knowledge and find out how much he’s made over the years and what his yearly salary even is?
The answer is: “We’ll at least try”.
So, we took a very serious, analytical approach (conversion rates, Brooklyn state insurance taxes, how subletting in the Mushroom Kingdom works, etc) to find out just how much Mario made per game, and how lucrative his coin collecting side hustle really is.
Who is Mario, really?
Perpetually both 24 and 25 years old (Independent, 2016), Mario Mario is a carpenter-turned-plumber that grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He is the brother of fellow plumber Luigi (or more accurately, Luigi is the brother of Mario) and is also madly in love with Princess Peach, ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom.
The character profile that Nintendo made for him in 1993 (Press the Buttons, 2016) described him as adventurous (“He’s always ready to pack up his bag of tools and head off into the unknown”), curious (“He has always managed to retain a child’s wide-eyed curiosity and inquisitiveness”) and tolerant (“He has seen too many things in his travels to be narrow-minded”). That’s a long sentence; almost as long as the list of what Mario does for fun when he’s not saving the kingdom.
His hobbies include go-karting (1), partying (2), shooting some hoops (3), performing in Olympic events (4), providing patients with unprescribed pills (5) and transporting deadly bombs through the Vietnam jungle (6). These past-times have landed him the honour of appearing in more video games than anyone else.
Financial breakdown, pre-coins
We don’t have access to the earnings of professionals in the Mushroom Kingdom, unfortunately. Instead, let’s assume Mario gets most of his plumbing work in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.
According to our research and at the time of writing, the average plumber in the NY borough makes $55,664 (Indeed, 2019), which is actually 9% below the national average. It’s a good thing that his girlfriend Peach was ranked 15th in a previous Forbes rich list (Forbes, 2007).
Maybe her kingdom has more relaxed taxes in place, but we’re playing by Brooklyn’s rules and our number-crunching leaves Mario with $3,381 a month after-tax.
While he grafts in Brooklyn, he actually lives in the Mushroom Kingdom. I know what you’re thinking, ‘what a commute that is!’. Well, with the transporting qualities of warp pipes, he can travel between the New York borough and his girlfriend’s kingdom in a heartbeat.
Based on its appearance in Paper Mario (2001), Mario’s red-and-green themed house is located just west of Princess Peach’s Castle. That fact, combined with it having a massive basement that was built by Luigi so he could hide his diary there (AV Club, 2015), you might be thinking that Mario has one hell of a mortgage to pay.
Think about it, though: would Peach really make him pay for it? Not a chance. She’s a billionaire with a heart of gold – he’s staying there rent and mortgage-free. At least this makes the 9% below average pay a little easier to swallow.
Determining the value of the gold coin
We’ve searched far and wide, but we can’t find any Mushroom Kingdom to GBP currency convertor, so we’ve had to put some work in. However, the truth is – not much is consistent in Mario.
For example, one way to determine this could be to work out the value of the gold coin based on its size compared to Mario. For content as serious as this, we simply weren’t happy with this approach though. Not only the coins but Mario himself (GetNews.jp, 2015), frequently changes size. Take, for example, this screenshot below from New Super Mario Bros (15th May, 2006) for the Nintendo DS.
According to this image, Mario is roughly the same size as a gold coin. Even when we look at the largest gold coin ever made, they still only get as large as 21 inches in the case of the Canadian “Big Maple Leaf” (BBC, 2017). Even accounting for his hat, this would still have Mario at approximately 22.5 inches – and that would give each coin a value of £3.3 million! However, according to various reports, Nintendo has confirmed that he has a height of 155cm – with a BMI of 37.0, in case you were wondering.
We even considered using one of the most consistent elements of Mario games – 100 coins get you an extra life – to work out the value of a single coin by working out the value of human life and dividing it by 100. However, we weren’t happy with this. Luckily, during our research stage, Super Mario Maker 2 came out. From what we could gather, the Mushroom Kingdom economy has faced some Brexit-style rollercoastering since the plumbers first video game outing, so we decided to use this as an up-to-date gauge of the coin.
We needed an anchor to base our different currencies around; something that you can purchase with both gold coins and with real money like pounds or dollars.
In the recently released Super Mario Maker 2, you’re tasked with building a castle using gold coins that you raise by playing levels. However, the cost of building a castle has too many variables attached to it to be a reliable anchor. We wanted something on a smaller and more manageable scale, so we can establish that conversion rate and then build up. It turns out, the stained glass window that is now synonymous with Princess Peach’s castles over every game, was perfect for this.
Clocking in at 2,000 coins, if we found out how much the stained glass window would cost in real life, we could divide that by 2,000 and then we’d have the exact conversion rate for pounds to coins!
To work out the size of the window, you can use the canon height of Mario (5 foot 1 inch) and use pixels as a measurement. By working out how many pixels tall Mario is, we know that many pixels equal 5 foot 1 inch. For example, if the window was exactly twice the same size in pixels as Mario, then we know the window is 10 foot and 2 inches tall.
Some complex maths later – which YouTuber Matthew Patrick worked out here if you want to see some of the inspiration for this content – you can work out that the size of the window is actually 11.7 square feet.
We need a bit more information than that to ask for a quote from real stained glass window providers, though. So, we sent them this image to the left, which was taken from the recent Mario game and edited slightly to highlight the individual pieces necessary.
Close analysis reveals that there are only 93 pieces involved in that particular window, which makes it fairly simple compared to some of the stained glass windows normally produced. As these are mostly large, they wouldn’t require precision cutting which will reduce the price even further. We also requested the best quality glass (if you were the literal ruler of a kingdom, wouldn’t you, too?) and asked for the price to include installation and framing.
With all that information, I felt confident going to real stained glass manufacturers to ask for a quote. I sent the email below to several different producers, knowing full well that this wouldn’t appeal to everyone since I’m not actually going to buy the window myself.
The fantastic team at Leadbitter Glass got back to me rapidly and gave me the price of £2,200 for production and installation, including VAT.
Finally, an anchor has been established to find a conversion rate between gold coins and pounds sterling.
£2,200 (window in pounds) ÷ 2,000 (window in gold coins) = 1.11
There we have it; one single gold coin is equal to £1.11!
That seems a little low though, right?
Well, yeah, to an extent. A gold coin being worth just over one pound seems unrealistic – in our world. That’s because, for us, gold is rare and that is what drives its value up so much. If gold was everywhere, it’s price would be drastically lower. Do you know where gold is everywhere? The Mushroom Kingdom.
No wonder the price is so low – you can barely turn around in Peach’s domain without knocking into a gold coin – and you think that’s gonna be valuable? Not a chance.
This actually lines up with other games, too. In 2017’s Mario Odyssey, Mario could buy a full black suit (including a white shirt, tie, blazer, pants and white gloves – for some reason) for just 150 gold coins. Multiply that by 1.11 and the suit comes in at just under £170, which sounds about right for a full suit!
How much did he make per game?
Luckily, this was something we didn’t have to work out ourselves – as much as we’d like an excuse to bust out the classics again. Game journalism site Kotaku shared this spreadsheet which collects not just the total coins from each game, but per level.
That means we can work out exactly how much money Mario made per game and per year, and using the currency calculator on National Archives, we can even adjust for inflation. Below, you can find a breakdown of the games from the 1980/90’s and then 2000/10’s.
* Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels was first released in 1986, but didn’t release in Europe until 1993. For this reason, we have dated it as 1993, but have used the inflation rate of 1986.
For the record, we have excluded two games from the data below. As Mario Odyssey and New Super Mario Bros 2 have drastically more coins per game due to different mechanics and choices, we decided that they would skew the figures and impact the integrity of the results.
Now we know how much money he would have made from each game, we can combine that with his plumber earnings to see how much money he’d have to spent per year.
- Total earnings from the games: £118,655.19
- Total earnings from the games divided by years since debut: £3,707.97
- Plumber salary (converted to pounds): £44,633.07 £46,139.89
Peach is really pulling her weight in this relationship then.
Is that more than you thought he’d be making? Less? Did you just think you’d never have to wonder how much a fictional plumber from Brooklyn made, including his coin-collecting side hustle? Neither did we, but we’re glad we did now.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure you share it with friends and – hey, if you want some props made, we know a pretty good company called Spur Creative that will help you out. You can check out their services here, although determining the financial breakdown of a fictional character isn’t something widely on offer – yet…