"A lot of people don't know that 50,000 Americans now make their living off eBay."
John McCain on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 in Dearborn, Mich.
Going, going ... probably wrong.
McCain's campaign didn't return repeated calls and e-mails to confirm where the 50,000 number came from.
But it clearly didn't come from eBay.
"We're not exactly sure where he got the number. We don't even calculate according to the U.S.," said eBay spokeswoman Deanna Monestero. "I don't want to say it's wrong, but I can't trace it."
The latest figures for the U.S. date back to 2005, when an A.C. Nielsen study revealed 724,000 Americans used eBay to make some money. But the survey didn't break down the number to figure out how many were just making a few bucks compared with the number making a living on eBay.
Back in 2003, a similar survey found that 430,000 Americans made all or some of their income from the internet auction site. But once again, the survey didn't break down the "all" and "some" income numbers.
That same year, Jim Griffith, who is eBay's so-called "dean of education" (who knew there was one?), was quoted in a Colorado newspaper as saying, "More than 20,000 people earn their living selling on eBay in the United States."
But a company spokeswoman couldn't say where that number came from, either.
These days, the company only keeps track of eBay entrepreneurs worldwide. That number, based on a 2006 Nielsen study, is estimated at 1.3-million. But again, it doesn't distinguish between full-time and part-time on-line auctioneers.
The bottom line: Lots of people make money on eBay, but how many depend on it to pay their bills remains unclear.
Published: Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
Sources:E-Bay press release New Study Reveals 724,000 Americans Rely on eBay Sales for Income
Colorado Springs Business Journal, May 9, 2003
Times interview Oct. 9, 2007 with eBay spokeswoman Deanna Monestero.
We want to hear your suggestions and comments.
For tips or comments on our Obameter and our GOP-Pledge-O-Meter promise databases, please e-mail the Obameter. If you are commenting on a specific promise, please include the wording of the promise.For comments about our Truth-O-Meter or Flip-O-Meter items, please e-mail the Truth-O-Meter. We’re especially interested in seeing any chain e-mails you receive that you would like us to check out. If you send us a comment, we'll assume you don't mind us publishing it unless you tell us otherwise.
Keep up to date with Politifact:
- Sign up for our e-mail (about once a week)
- Put a free PolitiFact widget on your blog or Web page
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Truth-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on GOP Pledge-O-Meter items
- Subscribe to our RSS feeds on Obameter items
- Advertise on PolitiFact
- Shop the PolitiFact store for T-shirts, hats and other PolitiFact swag