$6.09 Gas Prices in California Meme

Amid ongoing discourse about rising gas prices in the United States on March 9 2022, an Imgur post purportedly showed a photo of a gas station displaying prices of $6.09 a gallon for regular, $6.23 for “plus,” and $6.29 for “supreme”:

The apparent Twitter screenshot (which was missing contextual information such as the Twitter user name and date of the tweet) included a Chevron gas sign with the $6.09 regular gas price on it. In the tweet, the user wrote:

Fact Check

Claim: Image depicts gas priced at .09 a gallon in California in March 2022.

Description: An Imgur post on March 9, 2022, claimed to show a gas station in California displaying gas prices of .09 a gallon for regular, .23 for "plus," and .29 for "supreme".

Rating: Decontextualized

Rating Explanation: The image showing gas at .09 a gallon was originally published in a Wall Street Journal article in November 2021, indicating the gas prices in and near Mono County, California at that time. This image doesn’t represent a novel increase in gas prices in California due to later events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Pretty soon it will be cheaper for me to go snort coke and run where I have to go.

A Google search for “Pretty soon it will be cheaper for me to go snort coke and run where I have to go” did not return the original content itself. However, we found an identical iFunny.co post from November 27 2021. A reverse image search using TinEye returned crawled iterations of the image in chronological order. The image was first crawled on November 21 2021, about a week before the iFunny.co post was shared.

That initial match involved a November 21 2021 Wall Street Journal article, “Think Gas Prices Are Too High? In This California County, a Gallon Costs $6.” The image was at the top of the article, and a caption read in part:

A Chevron station in Lee Vining, in California’s Mono County, sold regular gas for $6.09 a gallon [in November 2021].

The article began with descriptions of similarly high gas prices in parts of California in November 2021:

When Miguel Lujan needs gasoline for his truck, he gets it in Carson City, Nev., located 80 miles from his hometown. It’s worth it, the store clerk and roller-derby player says, to pay one-third less than the local average of nearly $6 a gallon.

California currently [in November 2021] has the highest gas prices in the nation, an average of $4.70 a gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. Gasoline prices in the U.S. were up 50% in October [2021] from the same month last year [2020], amid rising inflation.

The most expensive gas in California is here in Mono County, a 13,000-person tourist destination on the border with Nevada that is home to the Mammoth Mountain ski resort. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $5.66 [in November 2021], according to AAA.

In Bridgeport, a town of about 550 that serves as the county seat, the two gas stations were selling regular unleaded for $5.95 and $5.99 a gallon last week [in November 2021]. In the nearby town of Lee Vining, which serves as a gateway to Yosemite National Park, a gallon of regular cost $6.09.

In the article, the Wall Street Journal reported that in November 2021, a gallon of regular gas cost $6.09 in Lee Vining, California, and that Mono County’s gas prices were the highest in the state of California at the time. According to price comparison site Gas Buddy, on March 9 2020, gas prices in Mono County, California ranged from a low of $5.49 in June Lake to a high $6.49 per gallon in Lee Vining and Bridgeport.

A popular March 2022 Imgur post about gas costing $6.09 per gallon was not actually from 2022; it was published by the Wall Street Journal in a November 2021 article about gas prices in and near Mono County, California. GasBuddy.com data for March 9 2022 demonstrated a similar range of prices in the area at that time, but the old image did not reflect a novel increase in gas prices influenced by later events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.