Trivia

Famous Wagers Big Money Bets in History Part 1

About some famous or bizarre big money bets in history including ones about the most expensive wine and ugliest person.

YOU BET!--A COLLECTION OF FABULOUS WAGERS

THE $500,000 GLASS OF WINE

When Cleopatra was 30, she bet her new lover, Mark Antony, that she could drink $500,000 worth of wine without leaving the table. Mark Antony accepted but lost when she dropped two pearls worth 10 million sestertia into a glass of wine, which she then drank.

THE UGLIEST PERSON ALIVE

Swiss-born opera manager John Heidegger (1659?-1749), master of the king's revels, had the reputation of being as ugly as sin. However, Lord Chesterfield claimed that he'd seen uglier people. Heidegger promptly wagered 50 guineas, and Chesterfield was given one week to prove his claim. After scouring London's most sordid districts, Chesterfield came upon the most repulsive woman he had ever seen and showed her to the assembled gamblers. But when Heidegger put on the woman's hat, she nearly fainted, and he won the bet.

RACE WITH A FAT MAN

By the time he was 21, the Earl of Barrymore was already established not only as one of the most profligate of the 18th-century English rakes, but also as one of the fittest and fastest. He was challenged to an extraordinary wager by a Mr. Bullock, a middle-aged, fat butcher. Despite age, size, and "unhealthy complexion," Bullock wagered that the young rake could not beat him in a 100-yd. footrace--giving the butcher a 35-yd. start and choice of the course. The wager, probably a sizable sum, was naturally accepted. Then Mr. Bullock played his trump card. The course was to be in Brighton, down Black Lion Lane--a distance over 100 yd. long and one of the narrowest streets in Britain. (Parts were barely 40 in. wide.) After Bullock took his 35-yd. advantage, the gun went off. In a flash Barry-more caught up with the butcher, but because the street was so narrow and Bullock was so wide, there was no way he could pass the puffing Mr. Bullock, who reached the winning post first and collected his money.

DRIVING A COACH THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE

The Marquis of Rockingham, Charles Watson-Wentworth (1730-1782), wagered that he could drive a coach and horses at full speed through the eye of a needle. The bet was accepted. He then built a large obelisk (nearly 40 ft. high) shaped like a needle, with a passage at the bottom just wide enough to accommodate a coach and horses. He won the wager, and his folly, known as "the Needle's Eye," still stands at Wentworth in Yorkshire, England.

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