A quarter of a billion is worth a lot of money. It can buy 179 million Big Macs, 12 million toasters or 23 million tires, and it can cover the cost of 320512 of gasoline. It is enough to pay for the entire budget of a large state or city, or it can make a fortune for one person.
It can also be used to make very large investments. The cost of a new nuclear power plant might be a quarter of a billion dollars. A quarter of a billion dollars can be gambled on a game of blackjack. It can even be used to fund drug treatment centers in Oregon, although that particular use of the term has created some controversy because of how hard it is to monitor where the funds go.
For some reason, the word “billion” has two different meanings in English: in the UK, a billion means a million millions (10 to the twelfth, what Americans call a trillion); in the US, it is simply one thousand millions. To avoid confusion, scientists and technical writers have long preferred to use the American definition of a billion wherever possible. To do otherwise would require a great deal of explanation and might cause misunderstandings.