The World’s Weirdest Wagers

Along with dozens of sports, these days there are several niche betting markets that can earn you great returns. Whether you’re an expert with insights into politics, climate patterns or reality television you can put your knowledge to good use.

In fact, some individuals and bookmakers have taken niche markets to a whole new level with their strange stakes. Putting money on whatever they felt was a dead cert has ended very well for some bettors and abysmally for others, as illustrated by the stories below.

Travolta, John Travolta

Back in 2015, when the next actor to play James Bond was still to be announced, some very unlikely predictions were being made. At odds of 500:1 were bets that Sean Connery would reprise the role, or that George Clooney would assume the mantle. Some risk-takers even put money on the part going to John Travolta, with odds of 1000:1. He’ll always be the guy with the smooth moves from Grease, but we don’t think the Saturday Night Fever star has what it takes to be 007.

Making Grandad Proud

Well, making Grandad proud and a great deal wealthier! Young Harry Wilson’s grandfather Peter Edwards has always loved Football, and he knew in his heart than his grandson would too. When Harry was a young boy, Peter bet £5 that he would play in the FIFA World Cup one day. Wilson fulfilled this prediction in 2013, when he played in a World Cup qualifier against Belgium. He made his own dreams come true, and Edwards pocketed a cool £125,000.

Betting on Himself and Losing

Captain Matthew Webb had much more reason to have confidence in his abilities than Peter Edwards did in his grandson, but fate is fickle and can be cruel. Webb became a celebrity in 1875, when he became the first person on record to have swum the English, unaided, Channel for sport.

The Captain made it from to Dover to Calais in under 22 hours, which gave him the confidence to try an even greater feat. He bet that he could swim through the Niagara River’s treacherous Whirlpool Rapids in 1883, but was sadly mistaken and drowned.

The End of the World as We Know It

Some bookmakers in the United Kingdom took wagers that the world would indeed end in 2012, as supposedly predicted by the Ancient Mayan calendar. The odds were 5000:1 so if the world had ended, they would have been due for a very substantial payday. The odds of anyone surviving the end of the world are, however, much steeper.

The chances of both the winners and the online betting shop operators making it, so that the payouts could be made and collected are slim to none. Shocking, we know. The people who placed this bet were not only pessimistic about the future, they also don’t seem to have really thought the scenario through.

On the other hand, perhaps these stakes reflect a kind of twisted optimism; the bettors might have reasoned that they’d either be proven right, or still be alive. Alive without any winnings, of course, but alive nonetheless!