Go Directly To Jail and Do Not Collect $24 Million
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“Keep Calm and Carry On” is a poster hanging in thousands of college dorm rooms that became famous for inspiring hundreds of parodies and imitations. Most people believe that the original poster was used by the British government during World War II to boost the morale of the soldiers fighting the Nazis but, in reality the poster has much more sinister origins.
First, the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was never actually distributed or displayed in England. They were created in 1931 and over two million posters were printed but they remained in storage throughout the entirety of WWII. After the war nearly all of the posters were recycled or burned, making surviving copies very rare.
The meaning of the poster is often misunderstood as well. The posters were not a rally cry to promote the war effort but rather the meaning of the poster was to promote a surrender in England’s worst case scenario. The posters were created by the British Ministry of Information to be posted in the event of a German occupation of England. The term “Keep Calm and Carry On” was meant to instruct the English to carry on with their lives if England was overrun and fell under Nazi control. he poster was a reminder that if all is lost the people must go on with their lives under the new regime.
An old copy of the original “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was found in a bookstore in 2000 and since then, false stories of how the poster rallied Brits on the home front have spread. In reality, no posters had ever been posted and the famous line from all the memes is much darker than people realize.
Signed sports memorabilia is an extremely profitable business with products selling well over their market value just for having a famous athlete’s signature on it. The idea of profiting off the celebrity of famous athletes isn’t a new concept though, but the modern autograph market is much more sanitary than ancient Greek sports memorabilia.
The first Olympic games was held in 776 B.C.E and featured sports like wrestling, boxing, and running. The athletes in the ancient Greek Olympics competed naked and covered themselves in olive oil. In ancient times, being covered in olive oil was considered healthy and athletes believed that it helped them limber up.
After competing, the olive oil on the athletes’ bodies would be mixed with sweat, dirt, and blood forming a thick coating on their skin. Using a tool called a strigil (kind of like a rounded butter knife), athletes would scrape off the olive oil, sweat, and dirt mix and put it into small jars with their names on it.
The small jars of athlete scrapings were sold to fans for extremely high prices as memorabilia and as medicine. People believed that the mixture from athletes, known as glorios, could be used to cure swollen joints, UTIs, and a wide variety of other ailments. The mixture was considered to have healing properties because it came from healthy athletic men and the ancient Greeks believed that they could absorb some of the athlete’s health.
Next time you go to a ball game and see a little kid begging for an autograph, just imagine if the pro athlete scraped off some sweat and cover the ball with it. That’s basically what the ancient Greeks did.
Crime & Punishment
Once a year, America’s favorite board game and fast food restaurant team up for the annual McDonalds Monopoly promotion. Select items on the McDonalds menu come with stickers that have either instant prizes like free French fries, or a monopoly game piece that can be collected to win larger prizes. Usually, players need to collect 2-3 pieces that are from the same area of the Monopoly board in order to win a prize. The larger the prize, the rarer the pieces are and sometimes the highest value prizes are never found.
One man did manage to dominate the McDonalds monopoly promotion and earn a total of $24 Million in cash and prizes. That man was named Jerome Jacobson and he was the chief of security for Simon Marketing.
Simon Marketing was hired by McDonalds to organize and execute their annual monopoly promotion by running the ad campaigns and distributing the game pieces to participating McDonalds. Jerome Jacobson was in charge or shipping the highest value game pieces to various restaurants around the country. His job gave him exclusive access to all of the game pieces prior to being shipped out.
Starting in 1995, Jacobson began stealing the highest value game pieces from the supplier warehouse and keeping them for himself. He would then sell the game pieces to friends and family around the country for a fraction of the value of the prize.
Friends of Jerome Jacobson won nearly all of the major prizes from 1995 to 2000 including the million-dollar grand prize, dozens of cars, and hundreds of smaller prizes. The total value of the game pieces stolen was $24 million. Jacobson even anonymously donated the million-dollar grand prize pieces to St. Jude’s Children Hospital in Memphis, TN.
Eventually, the scheme was figured out and Jacobson was arrested and charged with mail fraud and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The players who had purchased winning game pieces off him had to return their winnings and faced legal trouble of their own. The only prize that McDonalds did not recover was the million-dollar prize given to St. Jude’s hospital.
Jacobson cheated at a game of monopoly and went directly to jail without passing go or collecting $200. On the bright side, in 2019 Ben Affleck and Matt Damon announced they would be making a movie about the Jacobson and his McDonalds monopoly scandal.
This Week in History
On this week in 1925, the trial known as the Scopes Trial, or the Monkey Trial, began in Dayton, Tennessee. The Scopes trial was a criminal case against a school teacher named John Scopes who was fined by the Tennessee state government for teaching the theory of evolution in his classroom. At the time it was illegal to teach anything besides divine creation in public schools. The case had so much media coverage that the proceedings needed to be held on the courthouse lawn for fear that the courtroom floor would collapse under the weight of the crowd. In the end, John Scopes was convicted of teaching evolution and forced to pay a fine but his appeals help support later cases that regarded a person’s right to free speech.
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