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Happy Wednesday Morning!

Good morning. Former President Trump was indicted yesterday on federal charges over his efforts to subvert American democracy and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost. It’s the third indictment brought against Trump, who now faces a total of 78 criminal counts and a $40 million (and growing) legal bill.

Trump said he was innocent and has vowed to continue his campaign to retake the White House. On Monday, a New York Times/Siena College poll found that he was demolishing the field for the Republican nomination, leading second-place Ron DeSantis 54% to 17%.


Sound of Freedom: The anti-Hollywood box-office hit

Still from Sound of Freedom

Angel Studios

A story about a former federal agent on a mission to save a child from sex traffickers in the Colombia jungle has made more money at the box office than Tom Cruise battling an omnipotent AI superbeing.

With an estimated budget of $14.6 million and zero A-list talent, Sound of Freedom has raked in over $149 million in the US and Canada since its July Fourth premiere, putting it ahead of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and not far behind the latest Indiana Jones movie. And the two Hollywood heavy hitters had budgets of $291 million and $294.7 million, respectively.

Why the resounding success?

An unconventional marketing strategy is fueling sales: The lead actor, Jim Caviezel, appears on screen after the movie ends and urges viewers to “pay it forward” by buying tickets for others. More than 20% of opening-day tickets were purchased in response to this method, bringing in $2.6 million. A decent critical reception also helped (though some experts have criticized the film for misrepresenting aspects of real-life human trafficking).

But, perhaps even more importantly, Sound of Freedom’s focus on children’s issues and its Christian themes have made it particularly popular among conservatives.

  • Former President Trump screened it for political allies at his private club in New Jersey, and GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held a viewing event for a group of lawmakers.
  • It’s also reportedly been embraced by QAnon conspiracy theorists who believe that liberal elites are running a child sex trafficking ring.

The film itself has become a subject of conspiracy theories. Some viewers have claimed that theaters sabotaged screenings through nefarious tactics like withholding A/C. AMC Theaters CEO Adam Aron called allegations that the chain is suppressing viewership for Sound of Freedom “bizarre,” pointing out that the movie is available at 570 of its locations.


Tour de headlines

Emperor in Gladiator giving the thumbs down sign

Gladiator/DreamWorks Pictures via Giphy

 US credit rating gets downgraded by Fitch. The credit assessor knocked the US’ credit rating from the gold-standard AAA to AA+, citing the country’s growing debt burden and the “erosion of governance” (a reference to political standoffs over the debt ceiling). The last time the US received a credit downgrade was in 2011, when S&P sent it to AA+, causing market mayhem. Past and present US economic officials said Fitch was off its rocker for the decision. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called it “bizarre and inept” given the current strength of the US economy.

 Uber pulled off the unthinkable: It made money. The famously unprofitable ride-hailing company posted its first-ever operating profit in Q2 thanks to growth in its main business lines of delivering people and soggy fries to their desired locations. All it took was $31.5 billion in operating losses since 2014 to get there. Still, Uber’s stock fell 5.7% on the day because growth is slowing: Its 14% revenue gain last quarter was its smallest increase in over two years.

 Tiger Woods is joining the PGA Tour’s board. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan needed some way to win back players’ trust after they were blindsided by his plan to join forces with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf. The solution? Tiger Woods. The legendary golfer was appointed to the PGA Tour’s board of directors to serve as a voice for disgruntled players. Crucially, Woods gave his endorsement to the heavily criticized Monahan, saying: “He has my confidence moving forward with these changes.”


Family of ‘immortal’ Henrietta Lacks gets justice

Framed photo of Henrietta Lacks

The Washington Post/Getty Images

The family of Henrietta Lacks, whose cells underpin much of modern medicine, reached a settlement yesterday with biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Lacks’s descendants filed a lawsuit against Thermo Fisher in 2021, claiming that the company profited off of Lacks’s cells for decades by selling her cells and seeking to obtain IP rights to medical advancements that they were used to develop.

It’s a remarkable, and painful, story. Henrietta Lacks was a Black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951. While receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins, Lacks’s cells were harvested without her knowledge or consent. When researchers observed her cells in the lab, they found something surprising: They multiplied, whereas others would die within days. Scientists dubbed the line of identical cells “HeLa,” after Lacks’s name, and have used it for a variety of medical advancements you’ve likely benefited from. According to the World Health Organization, HeLa cells were used:

  • In developing vaccines for polio, HPV, the flu, and Covid-19.
  • To study different types of cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as IVF.

Zoom out: The settlement terms are confidential, but Lacks’s family has used the lawsuit to call attention to racism in the American medical system, saying in their complaint, “Too often, the history of medical experimentation in the United States has been the history of medical racism.”

If you want to learn more, check out Rebecca Skloot’s 2011 bookThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


Bed Bath has returned from the Beyond

Photo collage of hand holding 20% off coupon and Bed Bath & Beyond logo on gravestone.

Illustration: Francis Scialabba, Photo: Getty, Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond, which filed for bankruptcy in April, came back online yesterday after its buyer,, pulled a Kirby and rebranded itself as…Bed Bath & Beyond.

The backstory: In June, Overstock picked through BB&B’s carcass and bought its name, some of its assets, and its long list of customer info for $21.5 million—but not any of its physical locations. Overstock, a former online liquidator, was hunting for a rebrand to market itself differently to customers, so it’s hoping that slapping the iconic BB&B name on its site and products will set it up for success.

But sometimes, a recognizable name is not enough. Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), a company created by sentient LinkedIn post Tai Lopez and Zoosk founder Alex Mehr, has also tried to resurrect collapsed brick-and-mortar brands. They’ve spent about $120 million since 2019 acquiring defunct retailers and attempting to bring them back to life online.

It’s gone…not well. REV has let its websites for brands like Linens ‘N Things and Modell’s fall into disrepair with sparse (if any) product listings. It even tried (and failed) to flip RadioShack into a crypto exchange in 2021. The WSJ reported in March that the group was looking into “restructuring options,” while REV acknowledged it would pause debt payments.

Overstock Bed Bath & Beyond will try to avoid the same mistakes. It’s planning to revive the customer loyalty its namesake once had and aims to release a wedding registry by next summer.


Key performance indicators

Illustration showing Miami's population decreasing

Francis Scialabba

Stat: Here are two stats that might challenge how you thought the US population was shifting.

  1. Miami is shrinking. On net, Miami-Dade County lost nearly 80,000 people between 2020 and 2022, per Census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution. Higher housing costs, an inconsistent job market, and perhaps overflowing septic tanks drove people away from a city that had hyped itself as the future of finance and crypto. Maybe Messi can turn things around.
  2. California is gaining rich people. Millionaires love to complain about California’s high taxes, but the pull of wearing sweaters at the beach remains too strong. The state added 116,000+ millionaire taxpayers from the end of 2019 through 2021, more than in the previous decade combined, per CA’s Department of Finance.

Quote: “Inedible.”

That’s how MrBeast described MrBeast Burger in a lawsuit the YouTuber filed against his partner in the venture, Virtual Dining Concepts. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, claimed the company prioritized expansion over quality control, causing “material, irreparable harm” to his brand and reputation. MrBeast Burger became a ghost-kitchen phenomenon during the pandemic, selling 1 million burgers in its first three months. But eventually, people realized that the burgers were…horrible. In the suit, Donaldson cited customer complaints that the patties were “revolting” and “disgusting.”

Read: When did people stop being drunk all the time? (Lefineder’s Substack)


What else is brewing

  • Amazon expanded its virtual healthcare service, Amazon Clinic, to all 50 states.
  • Lizzo was accused by three former dancers of sexual harassment and fostering a hostile work environment.
  • Nickelodeon will air a kidcentric, slime-tastic telecast of the upcoming Super Bowl. It’s the first time the game will be broadcast on multiple networks.
  • NASA picked up a signal from its Voyager 2 spacecraft that it had lost contact with billions of miles away from Earth. Apparently NASA hasn’t heard of the AirTag.


Wednesday to-do list

 Test your social intelligence: Can you determine emotions just by looking at people’s eyes?

 Any tinned fish fans? Here are 16 stress-free recipes.

 Parody TikTok songs that slap: Every European dance song in the ’90s and what’s up with the steam coming out of the pipes in NYC? (some NSFW language).

 The US’ ban on incandescent light bulbs went into effect: Here’s what you need to know.


 Rates, straight up: With today’s interest rates, CDs have become an attractive earnings vehicle. Try CD Valet’s free earnings calculator to peep your potential earnings.*



The puzzle section

Word Search: If you wanna look at attractive actors in swimsuits and bikinis, this puzzle is for you. See if you can identify famous beach movies in today’s Word Search.

Console leaderboard

Name the 10 best-selling video game consoles ever.

Give yourself one point for naming a console on the list, and three points for slotting it in the correct rank.


Mind the (wage) gap

DE&I cutbacks, return-to-office mandates threaten wage equity in tech. Background of crumpled $1 bills, lined up in diagonal rows.

 The wage gap in tech is getting wider—underrepresented groups are making less against the backdrop of DE&I cutbacks. Learn more here.

 Finicky finances? Money with Katie’s Wealth Planner will help you track your income, spending, and investing portfolio. Get yours today.

 So you launched a startup…now what? Watch our virtual event for expert advice on raising venture capital.


  1. PlayStation 2
  2. Nintendo DS
  3. Nintendo Switch
  4. Game Boy + Game Boy Color
  5. PlayStation 4
  6. PlayStation
  7. Nintendo Wii
  8. PlayStation 3
  9. Xbox 360
  10. Game Boy Advance

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