Colbert brought in architect Andrew Tesoro, engineer Christine Hobson, masonry contractor Tim Dobrova, and interior designer Robert Kaner to explain the logistics of constructing a 100-foot-tall, 2,000-mile-long wall along the border of the United States and Mexico.
The host gathered statements from Trump about the wall being “a heck of a lot higher” than the ceiling of the presidential debate space from last year. Since that ceiling was 80 feet tall, the panel of experts determined a “heck-of-a” is the equivalent of “1/2 a–load,” which would put the wall at roughly 100 feet. That would need 200 million cubic yards of concrete, according to Dobrova, while Hobson says it would cost $400 billion just to pay for that amount of concrete.
That’s not factoring in the money for the workers, excavation, de-watering, portable concrete plants, and the like — all of which gives them a new number of approximately $1 trillion. Then they add another trillion, since they figure it’s better to build a stretch of highway along the wall. “Because what is a highway if not a wall on its side?” Colbert joked.
But Trump also claimed the wall will be “beautiful” — enter the interior designer. Kaner suggested turning it into a rock-climbing wall, though that would defeat the purpose. So his second option would be to put up wallpaper, the cost of which would further balloon the grand total.
Colbert cited 400,000 workers died building the Great Wall of China. Despite our advances in technology since then, Hobson estimates 100 people could die a month trying to build Trump’s wall. Assuming it’d take four years to construct the wall, that would mean about 4,800 people could die. “Obviously, nobody wants that, we just have to be realistic here,” Colbert said.
Watch the math of Trump’s wall in the video above.