Political news stories dominated the headlines for much of 2018, with a heated Supreme Court battle, government shutdowns, and November’s midterm elections securing their places on the list. On the other end of the spectrum, stories like the 2018 Winter Olympics and the Mega Millions jackpot that exceeded $1.5 billion proved popular enough to crack the top 10 as well.
- The government shutdowns
The US government saw not one but two shutdowns in 2018, separated by just two and a half weeks in January and February. Causing the twin shutdowns were disagreements between Republicans and Democrats on several issues, including immigration, healthcare, and President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. The first lasted three days, while the second lasted less than two hours.
- The Winter Olympics medal count
The 2018 Winter Olympics took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, from February 9 to February 25. Norway won the overall medal count with 39, while it tied Germany with 14 gold medals apiece. The United States finished a relatively disappointing fourth with 23 medals and nine golds.
People on both sides of the Atlantic were captivated by the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19. Nearly 29 million Americans watched the wedding on TV. The extravagant ceremony attracted celebrity guests including Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Serena Williams, and Elton John.
- The school shooting in Parkland, Florida
Seventeen people were killed when a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, entered the school on February 14 and opened fire on teachers and students. The shooting was one of the deadliest in US history. In the aftermath of the shooting, several student survivors helped ignite a national debate over gun violence in the US, with many of them demanding stricter gun-control laws.
Arguably the most contentious Supreme Court nomination battle in US history took place in September and October after a series of sexual misconduct allegations were leveled against nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Multiple women who knew Kavanaugh in high school and college accused the judge of misconduct, and one of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, testified about the alleged incident in a gripping hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination process galvanized women’s-rights advocates and survivors of rape and sexual assault, although Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed on October 6.
- Hurricane Michael
Just weeks after Hurricane Florence dissipated, another deadly storm slammed the southern US. With sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, Hurricane Michael was the strongest storm to hit the US in nearly 50 years. The hurricane resulted in 45 deaths in the US — mostly in Florida — and 15 more in Central America.
Americans of all political stripes helped make the 2018 midterm election results the fourth most-trending news event of the year. The much-anticipated election saw the Democratic Party win a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, while Republicans strengthened their majority.
- The Mega Millions jackpot
Lottery-related Googling reached a fever pitch in October as the Mega Millions jackpot reached a near-record $1.54 billion. One lucky player from South Carolina took home the massive prize.
Americans rushed to Google to get the latest updates on Hurricane Florence, the deadly hurricane that wreaked havoc on the Carolinas for two weeks in September. The hurricane resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.
It’s no surprise the FIFA World Cup generated a bigger Google search spike than any other news event in 2018. Nearly half the world’s
- population — 3.4 billion people — tuned in to the world’s premier soccer tournament in June and July.
The monthlong, 32-team tournament culminated with France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia.