Former baseball player Barry Bonds leaves federal court after being sentenced for obstructing justice in a government steroids investigation on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, in San Francisco.
The federal government spent at least an estimated $55 million to investigate and prosecute former MLB star Barry Bonds for obstruction of justice for allegedly lying about using steroids in 2003, ultimately securing a conviction against the slugger in 2011.
Whether or not you respect Bonds as a player, the argument that a government with trillions of dollars of national debt should spend $55 million on a legal obsession with a baseball player's truthiness is specious — at best. Even worse: After an appeals court overturned Bonds' conviction this week, the massive investment was — as it stands now — quite literally for nothing.
SEE ALSO: Barry Bonds' obstruction of justice conviction reversed by appeals court
How could that $55 million have benefited the poor? Or schoolchildren? Or the sick? Or the elderly?
To throw some perspective on the sum, we rounded up five things that the feds could have bought instead of an overturned conviction that is, in the grand scheme of things, pretty pointless. As it turns out, $55 million can go a long way.
At least three 9/11 Commissions
In the wake of September 11th, the commission tasked with investigating the attacks was given$15 million to document what happened and recommend steps to protect the country. It cost at least three times that to decide if Bonds had lied to a grand jury.
Students who qualify for a Federal Pell Grant can receive up to $5,775 each in financial aid. So the $55 million could have helped nearly 10,000 kids go to college.
10 Ebola treatment centers
The World Health Organization pegged the cost of running a 50-bed Ebola treatment for one month at around $900,000. The money spent on Bonds would have fueled 10 of these treatment centers for six months.
10 miles of highway
If the money had been spent on building new roads, it could have funded around 10 miles of two-lane highway.
Medicare for 5,000 people
The U.S. government spends an average of $11,200 per person on Medicare. So $55 million could have covered the costs of health care for nearly 5,000 people.
Better luck next time, federal government.