10 Most Extreme Bets of All Time

10 Most Extreme Bets of All Time 10 Profit Wars Most people know Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas are good buddies, but that friendship spans all the way back before Star Wars even came out

And that’s important since it’s a source of serious financial loss for Lucas In 1977, while Star Wars was still in production, Lucas visited his friend Spielberg on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which at the time was being touted as a potential box office smash after the success of Jaws At that point, Lucas was a much less established filmmaker, and after seeing the grandeur of the Close Encounters set, he decided to make a bet with Spielberg The two agreed a point split of 25% on those movies, meaning that Lucas would get that percentage of Spielberg’s takings and vice versa

Well, joke’s on Lucas, and I don’t just mean the prequels That wager was also a massive failure since Star Wars took more than double Close Encounters In fact, TIME estimates Lucas could have paid out as much as $40 MILLION for that blunderous bet 9 James Randi Paranormal Challenge A celebrity magician by trade, James Randi was perhaps even more famous for his efforts debunking what he believed were fraudulent claims regarding the paranormal, particularly psychics

In fact, he once mortified Uri Geller live on air by switching out his spoons One of the highlights of Randi’s debunking career came in the form of the paranormal challenge, where he promised a payout to anyone who could demonstrably prove in a double-blind study that they had paranormal abilities First offered at $1,000 in 1964, the prize eventually increased all the way up to $1 MILLION by the time it was discontinued in 2015 on his retirement In that time, no one ever got the cash despite over 1000 attempts, and Randi was even known to have a little fun with it For example, after psychic Sylvia Browne accepted the challenge, Randi’s website kept a record of the time it took her to actually do it

That clock was there for 5 YEARS before it was dropped, since, well, she never followed through However, Randi was repeatedly accused of never being willing to pay at all – particularly after claiming “I always have an out” Even so, where’s the proof of psychics? 8 Simon-Ehrlich Wager Around the early-19th Century, political economist Thomas Malthus was famous for advocating population control to solve the supposed inevitability of overpopulation and resource depletion Basically, he was Thanos

Even though his ideas have been thoroughly refuted, biologist Paul R Erlich has taken up the mantle of the modern-day Malthus over the last 50 years In particular, his book ‘The Population Bomb’, claimed that "[i]n the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death" By 1980, economist Julian Simon grew royally sick of Erlich’s doomsaying prophecies, like that 20% of the world’s population would die by 1985 and that England wouldn’t exist by 2000, so he made a wager Simon told Ehrlich to invest up to $1000 into minerals of his choice, then after a decade, if the value increased, Simon would pay the difference – the idea was that Ehrlich was betting on the increasing scarcity value of natural resources

It turned out that despite an 800 million population jump, the cost had actually decreased and Ehrlich OWED $576 Personally, I think that would’ve been an interesting alternate ending to Avengers: Endgame 7 ‘The Phantom Gambler’ It’s always hard to tell with high rollers – are they geniuses or are they just reckless? William Lee Bergstrom might be the best example of that, since his legacy is based on three MONUMENTALLY large bets followed by tragedy In 1980, Bergstrom appeared a long-running Las Vegas casino called Binion’s Horseshoe, which has the policy of accepting ANY first wager, no matter how high

He bet a whopping $777,000 on a single die roll in a craps game and came out on top, which is a seriously ballsy move – in fact it was, at the time, the largest single bet in history But he didn’t stop there – well, he did for a bit Four years later in March 1984, he returned to make a similarly large bet of $538,000 – winning AGAIN And finally in November that year, he made outdid himself with a MILLION dollar bet – except that time he lost However, by February 1985, Bergstrom had ended his own life, though it’s unclear if it was caused by the gamble or the loss of a lover

6 Ashley Revell When it comes to gambling, there’s often a survivorship bias around big winners In other words, the successes are focussed on so much that failures slip through the cracks, and the people who DO beat the odds are made into heroes instead of cautionary tales That could be argued in the case of Ashley Revell, a man from the English town of Maidstone who, in 2004, bet EVERYTHING he owned on one roulette roll in Vegas And by everything, I mean he sold his car, his clothes and he even officially changed his middle name to “Blue Square” to get the online bookmaker of the same name to contribute to his cause

That literally all-or-nothing gamble did pay off for Revell, after he doubled his $135,300 stake at the table, and he went on to use that win to his advantage The story was supposedly the inspiration for Simon Cowell’s ‘Red or Black’ game show, and he now runs a gambling industry recruitment business – but, uh, I’m not exactly sure I’d want to work for a man THAT open to risk 5 Chess Robots Nowadays, we’re almost constantly warned about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence, whether it’s Black Mirror, Elon Musk’s latest tirade or yet another Terminator trainwreck But 50 years ago, the idea was just a glint in the eye of John McCarthy, the man who went on to coin the term

So in 1968, after he got beaten by chess champion David Levy at a party in Scotland, the two decided on a wager on just how advanced computers could get with the game Levy put up £500, which was a significant amount of his annual wage 51 years ago, to say that a computer wouldn’t beat him before 1979 He was certainly right there, having just about defeated a chess bot in 1978 in the final game That said, he did finally lose 21 years after the initial bet in 1989 to IBM’s Deep Thought, the predecessor to Deep Blue, which famously beat grandmaster Gary Kasparov But with AlphaGo defeating humans at a much more complicated game in recent years, it’s safe to say chess is a bad bet for humans

4 Betting the wife So, uh… hopefully you already know this, but you can’t own, sell or trade other people – even your wife But apparently, Andrei Karpov didn’t get that message In 2007, the Russian poker player was in the middle of a game when he ran out of cash, which isn’t an uncommon position to find yourself in – especially if you’re as bad at poker as I am But rather than doing the sensible thing and taking the L, or y’know, giving up when he still had money to lose, he decided to ante up his own WIFE Tatiana to his opponent Sergei Brodov

Of course, Karpov lost yet again, so that was that But Andrei didn’t even tell Tatiana until Sergei arrived to make good on his winnings Morally repugnant as all this is, what makes it really bizarre is that Tatiana went on to divorce Andrei and marry Sergei of her own free will She told the Metro: ‘Sergey was a very handsome, charming man and I am very happy with him, even if he did “win” me in a poker game’ 3

Brian Zembic We all have that friend who’ll do anything for a bet One of my writers actually shaved off his right eyebrow for £42 and ate 5 whole lemons in 10 minutes for much, much less than that But no personal example is going to top the antics of Brian Zembic This magician and poker player was famous for being willing to do anything to win a bet, which was tested in 1996 when he was offered quite the challenge Having lost large amounts on the stock market in 1996, Zembic made a hundred thousand dollar bet with a fellow poker player that he would get breast implants

Not only that, but he would keep them for a year After Zembic took up the bet and followed through, his opponent quickly got cold feet and offered to buy him out for $50k – but he wasn’t having any of it Zembic went on to finish the year’s bet, and what’s more, he actually kept the augmentation for 20 YEARS I mean, fair play to the guy, that’s commitment 2

President Hillary Clinton You probably don’t need me to tell you, but 2016 was a crazy year And that wasn’t just true for the established geopolitical order, it was also the case for bookmakers According to William Hill, the Clinton-Trump election was the most wagered political event in history That was partly because of the sheer weight of the odds stacked against Trump – at least in the perception of the pollsters and pundits who misjudged the national mood But in any case it meant that most of the smaller, less risky bets went to him

However, seeing an opportunity for an easy win, Clinton was the target of a few absolutely massive misfires – not unlike Hillary’s campaign ‘Pokemon GO to the polls’, anyone? The biggest blunder, outside of the DNC’s political strategy that is, came from one woman in the UK who bet 481 THOUSAND pounds, which roughly equates to 600k in dollars On top of that, there were a number of others between 150 and 200k But hey, you might have lost a load of cash, but at least you didn’t lose an election to THIS guy 1

Betting on Cancer It’s never easy going to the doctor and hearing the big C come up, but there are plenty of different ways of dealing with it Some fight, but some apparently take the opportunity to win big I mean, why not? In 2006, Buckinghamshire, England’s own Jon Matthews was diagnosed with Mesothelioma [Mez-oh-thee-lee-oh-ma], which is a form of cancer generally associated with Asbestos materials used as part of industrial work in the 20th century Having been given just 2 months to live, Matthews decided to give himself a financial incentive to survive He placed two bets, one that he would be alive in June 2008 and the same for June 2009 – each for £100 with 50/1 odds

Matthews lived through both of those milestones with relative ease, much to the delight of bookmakers William Hill who had to pay out But unfortunately, the 59-year-old didn’t quite make his third bet for June 2010 with 100/1 odds In fact, he was just a month short, losing out on a further £10k, as well as his life – which is much more important

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