Famous Wagers Big Money Bets in History Part 3

About some famous or bizarre big money bets in history including one about Arnold Palmer's engagement ring.



Near the home of the 19th-century English politician Jack Fuller in Brightling, Sussex, there stands a 40-ft. brick cone--the surviving proof of one of his mad wagers. While sitting in his London club, Fuller bet a friend 1,000 guineas that the spire of Dallington Church was visible from his dining room window and invited his friend to see the spire for himself in two days' time. Fuller rushed home and discovered he was wrong. He promptly got all the male villagers to work day and night to build a replica of the spire at Woods Corner, within sight of his house, so that "no one can tell one from the other." The friend arrived and, to his horror, saw the "spire of Dallington Church."


During the American Civil War, many Englishmen supported the South because almost all raw cotton, so vital to the enormous British mill industry, came from the Southern states. The North blockaded trade routes and put thousands of Englishmen out of work. When the war was over, most Americans believed that ill feeling still ran high in England. But a Union Army color sergeant named Gilbert Bates firmly contended that only a small handful of Englishmen bore such resentment. During a heated argument, a wealthy friend of Bates's wagered $1,000 against $100 that Bates could not march the length of England carrying the Stars and Stripes without being insulted. Bates accepted the bet. On Nov. 5, 1872, dressed in the uniform of an American artilleryman and carrying a full-sized, 6 1/2 ft. x 6 ft. U. S. flag on a 9-ft. staff, he set out from just inside the Scottish border on his 400-mi. southward trek to London. Everywhere he traveled he was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and kindness of the villagers. Hoteliers refused to let him pay; people fought to feed him. By the end of November he had reached London, but the crowds were so great he had to be driven in an open carriage to the Guildhall, where he ceremoniously hung the unsullied Stars and Stripes next to the Union Jack. Sportingly, he telegrammed his friend, "Cancel wager. I regard this mission as something finer than a matter of money."


In 1954 American golfer Arnold Palmer met his future wife and wanted to buy something very special for her, but he had no money. So he found a fellow golfer and offered to pay $100 for every stroke he played over 80--but he would collect $100 for every stroke under 72. He shot a 68 and bought an engagement ring.


In 1964 David Threlfall bet pound 10 that a man would set foot on the moon within seven years. He got odds of 1,000 to 1. On July 21, 1969, he sat in a British television studio with a representative of the local bookmakers. As soon as the lunar module landed, Threlfall received a check for pond 10,000--before Neil Armstrong actually set foot on the moon. One spokesman said, "The touchdown is good enough for us. We know when we are beaten."

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