MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Every Friday, we answer a few confounding questions submitted by our viewers. This week, Heather Brown takes a look at the Super Bowl’s viewership numbers, unused Social Security dollars, and the accuracy of gas gauges.

Tom from New Brighton wants to know: How do we know 114 million people watched the Super Bowl?

According to Nielsen, the 114.4 million people who tuned in made Super Bowl XLIX the most watched televised event in American history. Nielsen comes up with these measurements by sampling. The company has boxes on the homes of tens of thousands of U.S. households that record what people are watching and send data back to the company. It’s a small fraction of the 116 million U.S. households with a television, but Nielsen says its sample is representative of different kinds of households and chosen randomly.

Mike from Brooklyn Park asks: What happens to your Social Security benefits if you die before you retire?

Social Security also works like life insurance, so there’s a good chance it could go to your survivors — spouse, kids or, in some cases, dependent parents. The Social Security Administration says 98 percent of children could get benefits if a working person dies. How much a survivor receives depends on how much a worker puts in, how old they are when they die and who is the getting the money. It’s usually between 70 percent and 100 percent of the benefit. For a more detailed chart about survivor benefits, you can go to the Social Security website.

After Frank and Chris ran out of the gas on the way to Bemidji, Kim asked on Facebook: How far can you really go when the gas gauge is empty?

According to the Lonny Lunn, an automotive instructor at the Dunwoody College of Technology, cars used to give you another two gallons after the light went on. But, with the new computer controls in cars, he says each manufacturer is different. It depends on things like use of air conditioning, tire pressure or whether the gas is a summer or winter blend. According to responses on the website, Tank on Empty, people on average get another 33-47 miles, but there was a variation of 25 miles.

Heather Brown

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