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What George Santos bought with his campaign cash...
November 17, 2023 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. Our team is busy preparing a special Black Friday newsletter all about the booming business of returns, because in America, the thought doesn't really count that much.

To make that newsletter sparkle, your help is needed. This question goes out to anyone who has worked in retail: What was the most ridiculous item you saw returned (or attempted to be returned) at your store? Let us know here and we'll share the best stories a week from today. Thank you!

—Cassandra Cassidy, Dave Lozo, Matty Merritt, Adam Epstein, Neal Freyman














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 11:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks were mixed on Thursday, as the Nasdaq and S&P 500 ticked up but the Dow fell, snapping a four-day win streak powered by positive news on inflation. Oil prices dropped to a four-month low over worries about global demand. And Walmart shares took a tumble after the retailer issued a cautious outlook on consumer spending.


The Vegas Grand Prix is mid

The F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix track Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Getty Images

After an extensive transformation to turn the streets of Sin City into a Formula One circuit, this weekend's Vegas Grand Prix has not attracted the brouhaha that its owners had in mind.

Facing lackluster ticket sales, waning hotel room rates, and an unhappy Dutch driver, race and F1 owner Liberty Media lowered profit expectations for the event, which some had thought could be a bigger deal than the Super Bowl. After an opening ceremony that featured John Legend, fireworks, and elevated stages that made the drivers look like members of One Direction, Red Bull driver and world champion Max Verstappen called the race "99% show, 1% sporting event."

Is this a sign the F1 bubble is about to burst?

For a sport that rose to prominence in the US faster than you can say "vroom," it's certainly experiencing a dip. F1's TV audience is down 8% from last year, according to ESPN, and streaming viewership is down 7% for Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the Netflix series that catapulted the sport (and Charles Leclerc <3) into our hearts.

But… dwindling interest in the much-hyped race could be due to the uninteresting track or the lack of competition. Verstappen already clinched the championship title last month no matter what happens in Vegas.

Vegas is still becoming a major sports capital. Yesterday, MLB gave the green light for the Oakland A's to move to Vegas, where the team would join the WNBA champions Aces and NHL champions Golden Knights. As for Vegas hotels, they'll be filled up soon—the city will host the finals of the NBA's mid-season tournament in December and the Super Bowl in February. And next year, a UFC fight is scheduled to take place inside the Sphere.—CC



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Tour de headlines

UAW workers on the picket line Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

UAW workers narrowly approved their new contract with GM. After some uncertainty that the deal would pass, 55% of United Auto Workers members voted to ratify the labor contract with General Motors, granting them historic wage gains and other perks following their six-week strike against the automaker. Majorities at some factories voted against the deal over disappointment that it didn't win back other benefits, like retiree healthcare and pensions. The UAW will now finish voting on similar deals it made with Ford and Stellantis, and those are likely to pass with bigger margins.

The first CRISPR therapy was approved in the UK. A British regulator said it will allow Casgevy—the first medicine licensed using the gene-editing tool CRISPR—to treat patients with sickle cell disease and thalassemia. By restoring working hemoglobin in the body, Casgevy is believed to be able to prevent excruciating pain in sickle cell patients and eliminate the need for frequent blood transfusions for those with thalassemia. Next up is approval by the FDA, which is expected to make a decision by early December.

More pandas are coming. As a gesture of goodwill, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said China will send new pandas to the US as part of the two countries' attempt to reduce tensions. Xi's promise of the furry "envoys of friendship" came after he met with President Biden this week in San Francisco, where the two agreed to resume military communications and made a deal to address the fentanyl crisis. Three giant pandas were recently sent back to China from the National Zoo in Washington, DC, leaving the four at the Atlanta Zoo as the only ones left in the US until the promised reinforcements arrive.


Could the price be right again for shoppers?

A price tag marked "sale" Francis Scialabba

Deflation could be arriving this holiday season, and we're not just talking about what your relatives will feel when they unwrap that package of tube socks you gifted them.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on Thursday said deflation may be on the horizon, citing a decline in the prices of grocery items such as chicken and eggs. McMillion said that although some items like beef remain expensive, he expects prices on other staples to come down in the coming months.

It's the latest welcome news for everyone feeling the squeeze from inflation and rising interest rates.

  • Target Chief Growth Officer Christina Hennington said earlier this week that the average price of basics fell three percentage points between Q2 and Q3.
  • JCPenney announced last month that it planned to keep prices for Black Friday the same or lower than last year.

It's unclear what this means for holiday shopping. Retail spending dropped in October for the first time since March, and a WalletHub survey revealed 34% of families planned to skip gift giving this holiday season. But 81% of Gen Zers and millennials say they're ready to splurge (hopefully on something better than tube socks).




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George Santos allegedly balled out with campaign cash

New York Republican Congressman George Santos arrives at Manhattan Court, where New York police tightened security measures on Tuesday ahead of Former US President Donald Trump's arraignment in New York, United States on April 04, 2023. Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

After fending off multiple attempts to oust him from office, George Santos may have finally grifted himself into a corner. The House Ethics Committee said yesterday it found evidence that Santos, the New York Republican representative who's spent most of his time in DC cosplaying as a Real Housewives villain, stole campaign money and used it for wild personal expenses.

Here are a few purchases Santos reportedly made with his constituents' money:

  • $2,000 on a glitzy trip to Atlantic City with his husband.
  • $1,500 on Botox, which was registered on his campaign spreadsheet as "Botox."
  • $20,000 of campaign funds to his personal business, which he spent on rent and casinos.
  • A $4,127.80 Hermes purchase and smaller Sephora and OnlyFans charges.

In response, Santos has stuck to his method of razzmatazz and denial. He did say he would not pursue reelection in 2024…if he isn't sent packing before then. Several congresspeople already plan to file motions today to expel him.

Big picture: Getting expelled from Congress might be the least of Santos's worries. He was indicted in October by New York federal prosecutors and faces 23 charges, including identity theft and scamming donors.—MM



Key performance indicators

Raising Cane's chicken fingers meal Raising Cane's

Stat: Watch out, Bezos—the chicken man is coming. Todd Graves, the founder of the fast-food chain Raising Cane's, is now worth $7.6 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index. That makes him the 307th wealthiest person in the world and the richest man in Louisiana. Known for its tasty chicken fingers and mysterious proprietary sauce, Raising Cane's did $3.3 billion in sales for the 12 months ending in June and recently expanded to 750 locations worldwide. Its crowning achievement? Raising Cane's now has a flagship location in the chain restaurant capital of the world, Times Square.

Quote: "You have said the actual truth."

That was Elon Musk's response to an antisemitic post on X claiming that Jewish communities push "dialectical hatred" toward white people. Part of the post also appeared to repeat the same antisemitic conspiracy theory espoused by Robert Bowers, who shot and killed 11 people at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue in 2018. This was not the first time the billionaire X CEO flirted with antisemitic rhetoric, though he claims not to hold any antisemitic views. Musk's post comes at a time of rising violence against Jews and "historic levels" of antisemitism, according to FBI director Christopher Wray.

Read: How TMZ became Hollywood's grim reaper. (The Hollywood Reporter)


News Quiz >>>>>

New Friday quiz image

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to parallel parking into a tight spot on the first try with a crowd looking on.

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.


What else is brewing

  • Amazon will soon let you buy cars on the platform, starting with Hyundai in 2024.
  • Boeing won three times as many aircraft orders as rival Airbus at this year's Dubai Airshow.
  • Anheuser-Busch's US CMO is stepping down at the end of the year as sales of Bud Light slump following conservative backlash against the beer brand.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that not only is Frozen 3 in the works, but the company is also developing Frozen 4.
  • Apple announced it will make it easier to text between iPhones and Androids, reversing its long history of being protective of iMessage.


Friday to-do list

Groove: André 3000 of Outkast fame releases his debut solo album, New Blue Sun, today, described as "an entirely instrumental album centered around woodwinds."

Read: How math built the modern world, which they probably didn't teach you in calculus (or history class, for that matter).

Watch: Idrisi Ensemble, a group that performs rare and never-recorded medieval music, sings a Greek alleluia dating back to the fourth or fifth century.

Think different: These foldable coat hangers could change your life.

Your investor aura: What kind of investor are you? Find out in our financial personality quiz. It'll give you a personalized playlist from Fresh Invest, our investing podcast with Fidelity.*

*A message from our sponsor.


The puzzle section

Jigsaw: Even if you're not going to be in NYC on Thanksgiving, you can "snoop" on the floats in the upcoming parade in today's jigsaw. Play it here.

Friday puzzle

Here's a brain teaser that went viral on social media this year: A man steals a $100 bill from a store register. He then uses that $100 bill to buy $70 worth of goods at the store. The store owner hands him back $30 in change. How much money did the store lose?


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The store lost $100.

Here are some explanations.

Word of the Day

Today's Word of the Day is: razzmatazz, meaning "noisy and noticeable activity, intended to attract attention." Thanks to Ed from Arizona and others for the flashy suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.

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