The 5 most interesting bets in history


Posted on Jun 26, 2021      67


Bets have a special role to play in history and life. The mere thought of what the great rulers, writers or creators might have argued about already sparks excitement and excites the imagination.

Maybe by chance, or maybe special knowledge in the sciences, or even just a human desire not to give in to the dispute, were decisive. We offer you the 5 most interesting historical bets.

1. Pearl Cocktail

Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony once bet that Cleopatra could easily drink 10 million sesterces’ worth of wine in one meal. Antony did not hesitate to agree to the wager, sensing a very interesting prospect. Cleopatra, having thought of everything in advance, at the very beginning of the dinner, took an earring of black pearls out of her ear and threw it into the wine. Because of the reaction of calcium carbonate and acetic acid, by the end of the evening the wine had become a harmless drink that could be drunk in one sip. Mark Antony conceded defeat.

Scientists also confirm the feasibility of such an experiment. Professor Prudence Jones, conducting a similar experiment with vinegar and pearls, confirmed that 24 hours is enough to dissolve the average pearl. It is quite possible that Cleopatra had prepared herself and took a softened pearl off her ear, or that their dinner had gone smoothly into breakfast.

2. Run in with the butcher.

One of the most ingenious bets in history happened in England, in the eighteenth century. In the city of Brighton, a wealthy butcher, surnamed Bullock, offered a young aristocrat, the Earl of Barrymore, to make a wager. What is interesting is that Bullock, being a man fat, but quite resourceful, suggested to the Earl, who is fond of athletics, to compete in the race. Butcher boldly stated that he intended to overtake the young Barrymore in the 100 meters, but on the condition that he choose a place for the race and leaves behind a head start of 35 meters. The winnings are an amount equal to the value of the butcher’s entire business.

The Count accepted the challenge. And minutes before the race, the butcher reveals his plan. It turns out that he had chosen the narrowest street in Black Lion Lane for the race, and when the count easily caught up with his opponent, he simply could not squeeze through to overtake. The Earl accepted defeat with dignity and paid the full amount of the contract.

3. balzac women.

The story of this wager, which is more literary fiction, has every reason to be true. Balzac was famous as a connoisseur of women. He liked to invent biographies of random strangers in the streets, which often amused his friends.

One day, walking in the park with a friend, Balzac saw two completely different women. One was a blonde with an outstanding figure, “with a true Parisian gait” and manners. The other was a thin, awkward brunette with a strange hat on her head.

Balzac argued with a friend that the blonde was a native Frenchwoman, had no children, and lived a beautiful life. And the brunette looks like a housekeeper who gave birth early by mistake, and now the child is being raised by her grandmother, and can barely make ends meet. Friends bet on dinner at an expensive restaurant. When the “connoisseur of women’s souls” came to get acquainted with the strangers, he was surprised to learn that the blonde was a married German mother of two children, and the brunette was a Frenchwoman with a very frivolous disposition and an actress. Balzac was unlucky to have dinner that evening.

4. A Moonlight Wager

Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon was a grand event not only in the history of mankind, but also for a Brit named David Trelfall.

Nine years earlier (in 1960); he looked into a bookmaker’s office with only 10 pounds in his pocket. For that time; the money was not small, given that the salary of a worker was 30-40 pounds. With no idea, it occurred to David to bet on a man’s trip to the moon in the next 10 years! The bet was 1 in 1,000. And a year before the bet ended, the first moon landing should have happened. Trelfol bought a sports car with the won money, in which, a year later, he crashed to his death.

5. Around the World in...

Described by Jules Verne in Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg’s wager, has been tried more than once in real life. Fogg’s record was first broken by American journalist Nellie Bly in 1889. She suggested to her editor, Pulitzer himself, that she organized a business trip along the route described by Jules Verne, with 200 pounds in her pocket and little luggage.

Cosmopolitan magazine sends its journalist on a similar journey. A bet was made as to who would be the first to return.

In November 1889 Nellie’s journey began on the liner Augusta Victoria. Compare the adventures of Jules Verne difficult of course, but about all of what happens journalist reported via telegrams, for the magazine. Readers were offered a sweepstake with bets on the date of Nellie’s return. After surviving a storm in the Pacific, crossing to the other coast, and continuing her journey by personal train, Nellie arrived in the United States on January 21, eight days early. The Cosmopolitan journalist, meanwhile, was sailing the Atlantic, resigned to defeat.


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