Beating the Odd – 20 Infamous Bets That Made History


1David Threlfall

David Threlfall

After hearing Kennedy's “end of the decade” speech, an Englishman (David Threlfall) made a wager with a bookmaker of 10 pounds at 1000/1 “that a man will set foot on the surface of the moon before the first of January 1970.” He thought it was “a common-sense bet.”

2Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” to win a bet against his publisher who thought that Seuss could not complete a book using only 50 words.

3Paul Erdős

Paul Erdős

Mathematician Paul Erdős, who was an avid amphetamine user, once accepted a friend's $500 bet to stay clean for 30 days. Erdős won the bet but complained that “mathematics has been set back by a month.

4Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

When a young girl was invited to meet President Calvin Coolidge, someone made a bet against her claiming that it was impossible for the president to say more than two words to her. When the girl told the president about the bet, President Coolidge responded, “You lose.”

5Dr. Donald Unger

Dr. Donald Unger

Dr. Donald Unger cracked the knuckles of his left hand (but not his right hand) every day for more than 60 years to prove that it does not give you arthritis. Neither hand got arthritis and he won the bet with his mother.

6Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg makes money from Star Wars, even today, after a bet with George Lucas that Star Wars would be a flop.

7Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking had to purchase a one-year subscription to Penthouse for Kip Thorne after losing a bet pertaining to the existence of black holes.

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Lacrosse was an incredibly violent game created by North American Natives. People were crippled or killed as it was used in place of warfare and diplomatic disputes, where players could even bet their families for slavery to the other team.

9Brian Zembic

Brian Zembic

A guy named Brian Zembic in 1996 had breasts implanted just to win a $100,000 bet. He never got them removed.

10Horatio Nelson Jackson

Horatio Nelson Jackson

The first successful US trans-continental automobile trip in 1903 was done on a $50 wager by a man named Horatio Nelson Jackson who did not own a car, had practically no experience driving, and had no maps to follow. It took 63 days.


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