CNBC's Schackow: Lotteries, Blogs, and the Mysteries of ExxonMobil


Let's Be Honest: There were at least two winners in the $370 million Mega Millions drawing yesterday. I wasn't one of them. If I had been, you wouldn't be reading about the drawing in this blog, because I wouldn't have written it. While we're on the subject, let's be honest. If one of your co-workers won and walked off into the sunset with $370 million, wouldn’t you hate their guts?

Here’s another lottery-related problem I bet you never thought of: Mega Millions is a CNBC story because it has obvious financial implications. But it’s also a general news story because EVERYONE wants to hear about the $370 million drawing. Even if they didn’t win.

That means it’s the job of people like me to make sure the story isn’t accidentally repeated too many times on CNBC's air. If I wasn’t watching carefully during “Squawk Box,” for instance, the story could wind up as a scripted story during our rundown of the day’s biggest financial stories, during our business news headline segment, AND during the MSNBC general news update.

This kind of multi-interest story happens more often than one might think, but thankfully, we’re usually heads-up enough to nip such problems in the bud. Unless, of course, the person responsible for checking was one of the two winners.

The Mystery of ExxonMobil: You can read the details of CNBC’s exclusive interview with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson elsewhere, but I KNOW you come to this space for entertaining -- or, at the very least, informative -- trivia.

Once upon a time, there were two huge oil companies, Exxon and Mobil. In 1998, they got the bright idea of joining forces, and $74 billion later, Exxon Mobil was born. Or is it ExxonMobil?

That question plagued me for a while, because no matter which way I spelled it on screen, someone would inevitably scream, “It’s spelled wrong!”

Not that I don’t love a good corporate mystery, but I had to know: Was I right, wrong, both, or neither? I picked up the phone and called.

Answer: All of the above.

When you refer to the company name by itself -- such as when you’re quoting the stock price -- the proper spelling is one word: ExxonMobil. Another example would be during our aforementioned interview with Rex Tillerson -- his onscreen description should read “Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO”.

But if you’re referring to the company as a corporate entity with the “Corp.” part, it’s TWO words: Exxon Mobil Corp.

Why? I’m not sure. All I know is, General Electric is ALWAYS two words.