Confessions of a Gambling Addict: 6 of the Dumbest Bets Ever

When we think of the world of betting, Las Vegas casinos and sports books come to mind. In truth, people gamble in non-traditional ways all the time (consider your department’s March Madness pool). From the outcome of sporting events to the weather, if there’s a wager to be made, you can bet someone, somewhere is pulling out a proverbial wallet.

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That being said, some bets are nearly impossible to believe and leave you wondering WHY someone would shake hands on it in the first place. Here are six examples:

Betting Against the Weather

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Unpredictability is part of the definition of gambling but when you square yourself up against the elements, it’s generally a losing battle. Not for Colonel Duckworth in 1943, though. Not only did he fly his AT-6 Texan plane right into the core of a hurricane – he did it again, all for a whiskey and club soda. Duckworth was trying to prove the strength of the American fleet of planes against British pilots who scoffed at the mandatory grounding the aircrafts received when the storm barreled in. They weren’t scoffing when they bought Duckworth his highball though.

Betting Against Star Wars

At this point, the Star Wars franchise is certifiably one of the most profitable in the history of filmmaking. Back in 1977 though, creator George Lucas was not at all confident that the first of the original trilogy would be a hit. He bet friend Steven Spielberg that Close Encounters of the Third Kind would perform better at the box office than Star Wars: A New Hope. If Star Wars won out, Lucas promised 2.5 percent of the movie’s profits back to Spielberg. Both movies did well – but Lucas lost his bet and has been paying Spielberg ever since. We’re pretty sure he isn’t complaining though.

Betting Against Science

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It turns out that scientists are not always rational. Case in point: Richard Feynman, a physicist, had this crazy idea in 1959 to shrink computers to the size of grains of salt. No one had done it – and computers were still the size of homes – but he offers up $1,000 to the scientific community if someone could create a motor that was 1/64 of an inch or smaller. Bill McLellan met the bet with a motor that was smaller than the head of a pin and had 13 working parts. McLellan’s invention didn’t advance the science of small computers much at the time – but inspired the creation of the field of nanoscience later on.

Betting Against Your Favorite Team

How much do you love your favorite sports team? Enough to drink your own urine? In one of  a slightly-drunk (we assume) fan bet some friends that he would drink a glass of his own pee if his team, the Houston Texans, could come back and win a football game. You have to think divine intervention played a role because sure enough, the Texans ended up winning – and the fan made good on his bet.

Betting Against Your Own Belief System

Would you go against your values if there was money on the line? What if you could-- say $10,000? A carnivorous friend bet a vegetarian pal that he couldn’t eat a hamburger for $10,000. The vegetarian was able to see beyond his usual beliefs for the sake of his bank account.

These are just the crazy bets we actually know about – there are thousands more that the losers may never admit. Where would you draw the line when it comes to completing a bet? 

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