Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced Wednesday that the United States $20 bill will change faces from Andrew Jackson to Harriet Tubman. Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, has been on the bill since 1928 when he replaced Grover Cleveland. Criticized by many Americans for his role in the Trail of Tears, Jackson is replaced by Tubman, abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor.
This got us thinking. What if athletes could be considered for currency? Who would be on those bills and coins? And which denominations would be the best fit?
$1 Bill: Babe Ruth
The Great Bambino was the original hero for the national pastime. Ruth debuted more than 100 years ago, and he is still the most recognized individual in the sport. Call him the George Washington of American athletics.
$2 Bill: Herb Brooks
It kind of feels like a miracle every time you come across a $2 bill, right? There's no bigger miracle in sports than the U.S. hockey story at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. Brooks' quote, "Great moments are born from great opportunity," goes on the back of the bill.
$5 Bill: Joe Montana
Charles Haley actually has the most Super Bowl rings of all time, winning five (two with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys), but Montana was the face for one of the NFL's greatest dynasties. Montana won four Super Bowls in San Francisco, and if you throw in the national title he earned at Notre Dame, that's five rings.
$10 Bill: Hank Aaron
There is something humble about the $10 bill. It is the first double-digit bill, but it can be overshadowed by the 20, the 50 and the 100. Alexander Hamilton, one of two non-presidents currently on U.S. money, is remembered for practicality and advancing his agenda, although such activism led to his death at the hands of Aaron Burr. Hank Aaron hit the most (clean) home runs of all time, and he wears that distinction with quiet dignity. "What a marvelous moment for the country and the world," Vin Scully said during Aaron's 715th home run trot, passing Babe Ruth. "A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol."
$20 Bill: Michael Jordan
There is no $23 bill, so this will have to do. The $20 bill is the most common dollar dispensed at the ATM, so Americans would have to look at MJ's face every time they make a withdrawal, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are having a bad day, go to the bank and pull out a few Jordans. Quote on the back: "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed."
$50 Bill: Serena Williams
There will be naysayers for this choice, as there has been for everything Serena Williams has done in her career. But facts are facts. Williams is objectively the greatest female athlete in American history, if not world history. No one has been as successful in as high profile of a sport. Her 21 grand slam singles titles deserve big money in the form of the $50 bill. And our choice cannot look more different than the real face of the $50 bill, Ulysses S. Grant.
$100 Bill: Wilt Chamberlain
Too easy, right? Chamberlain's 100-point performance on March 2, 1962, is still the only triple-digit total in NBA history. That season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points, and he has the three highest scoring seasons in NBA history. Of course, Chamberlain's other astonishing stat -- he wrote in his memoir that he had sex with 20,000 women -- could be frowned upon by some, but we'll take that chance. Like Ben Franklin, who is on the $100 bill now, Wilt did some of his best work in Philadelphia.
Penny: Jackie Robinson
Ask Americans what individuals' faces are on coins, and George Washington on the quarter and Abraham Lincoln on the penny will be the most likely answers. There is something unique about the copper-colored coin that is the most prevalent piece of our nation's currency. It is fitting to receive Jackie Robinson coins in change every day. He changed the sports world forever and his effect is always present, whether we notice it or not.
Nickel: Jack Nicklaus
Nickels for Nicklaus certainly has a better ring to it than Thomas Jefferson, although The Golden Bear only made fives if he really screwed up. Nicklaus' 18 major titles look like they will withstand the Tiger Woods Era, as he continues to be the most successful professional golfer of all-time. Maybe turn the nickel into Masters green jacket color?
Dime: Bill Russell
No American athlete has won more titles in a major sport than Russell's 11 NBA championships (Montreal native Henri Richard won 11 Stanley Cups with the Canadiens). Ten is the closest we can get to 11. Wilt Chamberlain is taunting Russell from heaven for being more valuable on this list, but all Russell can do is point to his fingers, which cannot even fit all his rings, when he replaces Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the dime.
Quarter: Muhammad Ali
Washington gets his face on the $1 bill and the quarter. We went with The Great Bambino for the paper, but "The Greatest" gets the coin. Ali was more than "The People's Champion." He was a political and social pioneer, a civil rights activist in every form of the term, who inspired a following to challenge the world's norms. No athlete can match his extraordinary presence, even to this day.
Half Dollar: Roberto Clemente
Like John F. Kennedy, the real face of the half dollar, Clemente left the world too young. In his 18-year career, Clemente, who was born in Puerto Rico, became the first Latin American player to start for a World Series champion, win an NL MVP Award and win a World Series MVP Award. Clemente died in a plane crash after the 1972 season, as he was on his way to Nicaragua to deliver aid to earthquake victims. Clemente was 38. Because of his death, the standard five-year retirement period before Hall of Fame induction was waived. He was voted to the Hall of Fame in 1973, three months after his passing in a special election.
Dollar Coin: Jackie Joyner-Kersee
Joyner-Kersee was 10 when Title IX was signed into law in 1972. Little did the East St. Louis, Illinois, native realize she would become one of its first mega-successes. Joyner-Kersee accepted a basketball scholarship to UCLA, and she played four years, but it was her track and field career that made her one of the greatest female athletes of all-time. In four Olympics from 1984-1996, Joyner-Kersee won three gold medals: Two in the heptathlon and one in the long jump. She claimed six medals in all. Sports Illustrated for Women ranked Joyner-Kersee the greatest female athlete of the 20th century. The dollar coin has featured pioneering women such as Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea, so Joyner-Kersee is an apt selection.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.