Marketplace Scratch Pad

He bet his life

Scott Jagow Jun 1, 2009

I just find this story charming. A British man made $8,191 today by winning a bet. He didn’t bet on horse racing or poker or blackjack. No, this terminal cancer patient made a bet three years ago that he would live to see this day.

In 2006, 59-year-old Jon Matthews was diagnosed with cancer. He was told he had months to live. He was willing to bet on it. Matthews believed a wager might give him an extra incentive to fight the illness.

He called a well-known British bookmaker, William Hill, and asked if he could make a bet on his life. The company agreed. Matthews made two bets of 100 pounds each at odds of 50/1 that he would still be alive on June 1, 2008 and June 1, 2009. He collected the first payout last year. From BBC News:

Mr Matthews said: “I think I’m the first person in the world to bet on my own life.

“When I was diagnosed I was told mesothelioma was a death sentence.

“I wasn’t that fussed because everyone has to die some time.

“But the interesting thing for me was how long it would take – would it take weeks or years?”

Matthews plans to give most of his winnings to charities, including cancer research.

A spokesman for William Hill says the bet is a first, but “never in 30 years in the business have I been so pleased to pay a winning client 10,000” pounds.

Oh, and he might have to pay another 10,000 on June 1, 2010. Matthews made a third wager at 100-1.

I wouldn’t bet against him.

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