“Powerball” Was Somehow the Most Googled Topic in the U.S. for 2016

Social Media Week

During a year marked by economic turmoil, crazy weather events and monumental losses, the most-Googled topic had to do with everyone in America wanting a piece of a $1.6 billion jackpot.

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2016 has been quite the year. Among political events, down-to-the-wire sports matchups, celebrity deaths and everything in between, the news cycle seemed relentless. In response, many topics reached all-time highs when it came to search interest.

To help us look back at the people, places and things that piqued our curiosity most, Google has released its annual Year in Search report. Some of the top trending searches would be easy to guess, and others are somewhat out of left field.

Globally, the top search worldwide was “Pokémon Go,” followed by “iPhone 7,” “Donald Trump,” “Prince” and “Powerball.” In the United States, “Powerball” was the No. 1 search term of the year. On Jan. 13, the jackpot reached an all-time record high of $1.6 billion.

Another category full of surprises was musicians. The top searched musical act of the year globally? Céline Dion, followed by Kesha, Michael Bublé (Huh?), Creed (WHAT?!) and Japanese entertainer Dean Fujioka. In the U.S., Beyoncé trumped Céline Dion.

Not surprisingly, within the U.S., the top two most-searched people were Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Michael Phelps came in third following his impressive performance at the Olympic Games in Rio. The biggest memes in America, per Google Trends, were Harambe and Damn Daniel. The most-searched sports team in the U.S. was, of course, the Chicago Cubs.

This is the 16th year Google has been sharing its most popular queries with the public. The Year in Search is always interesting to review, as it reflects people’s candid and unadulterated interests – individual users’ searches are, after all, mostly private – and indicates the fleeting topics that dominate our lives one moment, and disappear the next.

You can view all of the year’s top searches by country and category here. Google has also created a separate section devoted to “Breakout Searches,” which provides a month-by-month view of the topics that dominated queries within the world’s largest search engine.

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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.

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