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Potato chips, Mario and hair balls; three things in U.S. Iowa Senator Ernst’s ‘Bracket of Waste’

MOLINE-- A U.S. Senator from Iowa is trying to bring light to, what she considers, government waste, in a way true to the season of March Madness. She's made a bracket. Her bracket includes potato chips, Mario and hairballs.

Norie Criswell from Disc Replay in Moline is a self proclaimed video game nerd. She sells them, she spends her own money  on them, but that doesn't mean she thinks the federal government should do the same.

"This is a fun way with March Madness going on and the Sweet 16. We came up with 16 different horrible government waste projects," says Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst.

There's 16 projects that four republicans chose the federal government used taxpayer money to pay for.

Here's how it works.

Four different U.S. Senators submitted what they thought were the most wasteful things the government spent money on. Those are their teams, of sorts. Then people can go online and choose what they think is the most wasteful. It goes through rounds, just like the NCAA basketball tournament, until in the end, we have the champion of government waste.

"When I think I have heard of everything possible out there, you hear of this," says Senator Ernst.

One of her picks is a study to find out the quickest way to win a video game. $1.6M of taxpayer money was used to find out the answer is to cheat.

"I feel like there's a bunch of nerds out there who would have done it for free," says Criswell.

Another study is aimed at finding the correlation between how much you pamper your cat and how many hair balls they will throw up. Taxpayers coughed up $1.3M for that.

And there's a study centered around one sour cream and onion potato chop. It cost $90,000 to determine if the chip resembles Elvis Presley. The study found the chip does, in fact, look like the rock star.

"It's wasting money our hard earned money that should be going into schools, education, roads," says Joe's Place owner Stephanie Hoffstatter.

It's poking fun at something not everyone things is funny, putting another reason in the March Madness season.

"Really, studying hairballs? Not really what we need to do," says Ernst.

Channel 8 reached out to democratic U.S. Senators for comment on the study. We are still waiting to hear back.

If you want to vote for your picks for the Bracket of Waste, click here.

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