When it comes to quality, we have no doubt that Texas has the best barbecue in the country. When it comes to quantity, though, as of 2014 Oklahoma and Georgia had more barbecue joints per capita, and barbecue spots made up a higher percentage of restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I mean, if you call that barbecue.
The world’s second-richest person (Elon Musk), twenty-first-richest person (Walmart heiress Alice Walton), and twenty-third-richest person (Michael Dell) live in Texas. But the 73 billionaires who call the Lone Star State home don’t get us to the top of this list; California, New York, and Florida all have more. And we rank even lower—number ten—on a per capita basis. Though we’ll admit we don’t feel all that intimidated by sparsely populated Montana’s four—count ’em, four—billionaires.
As you might expect, Texans own more guns than the residents of any other state, nearly twice as many as the runner-up, Florida. But it will surely trigger many gun-loving Texans to learn that we’re not the number one gun-owning state on a per capita basis. In fact, we’re not even close. We rank twenty-seventh, behind a lot of much smaller states, such as Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Maine, New Mexico, and Vermont. If it’s any consolation to Governor Greg “Buy More Guns” Abbott, though, we’re well ahead of our fellow big states New York, California, and Florida.
Though no state in the twenty-first century has added more residents than Texas, from 2021 to 2022 Florida, Idaho, and South Carolina grew at a faster rate. If you’re invested in the Texas-versus-Florida rivalry, it’s not all bad news—Texas added more people than any other state during that time period, and most of Florida’s gains were the result of migration from other U.S. states, while ours reflect a more-robust combination of internal migration, international immigration, and good ol’ natural increase. Texas’s population is younger than Florida’s, so we have a lot more babies. Sorry, Florida, but persuading septuagenarian New Yorkers to spend their final years enjoying 60-degree lows isn’t a reliable way to maintain long-term population growth.
According to popular legend, there are more tigers living in Texans’ backyards than in the wild. That’s probably not true; there are about 4,500 tigers living in the wild, and the widely cited claims that there are 2,000 to 5,000 tigers in captivity in Texas seems to be based on scanty evidence. There may, in fact, be fewer than 200 of the big cats here, putting us behind Florida, which reportedly has more than twice as many as we do—yet another example of the Sunshine State’s intense interest in trying to out-Texas Texas. Meow!
This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “But Wait, There’s Less!” Subscribe today.