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Friday, 5 May 2017


Homer's Iliad, which is dated about the 9th or 8th century, describes the games which followed the funeral of Patroclus. They were a boxing match, which was followed by a bout of wrestling. The prizes in the boxing match were a sturdy mule for the winner and a two-handled mug for the runner-up. Wrestling must be more highly regarded, for the prizes on offer in that bout were  far more valuable - a tripod worth twelve oxen for first prize, and a woman, highly skilled in domestic duties, worth four oxen for the loser.

An ancient Greek tale tells the story of a dolphin who rescued the musician Arion. He had jumped into the sea to escape murderous sailors intent on stealing prize money he had won by playing the lyre.

Boucher, François, Arion on the Dolphin, 1748

During the reign of King Richard I in the late twelfth century race meetings became a favorite pastime of knights. It is known that one Whitsuntide, knights held a contest (the first formal race for a money prize) over a three-mile (4.80 km) course for a purse of £40 in "ready gold."

The first public lottery to have paid money as prizes is believed to be La Lotto de Firenze in Florence in 1530. This was such a successful enterprise that the practice quickly spread to other Italian cities.

In 1609 the Sheriff of Chester generously agreed to donate the trophy (in the form of a silver ball) for the annual race in his city. Accordingly, he asked a local craftsman to make it. On its delivery, the sheriff found it was not up to expectation. The artisan thereupon produced a second ball, but this did not please the customer either. However, the silversmith's third attempt proved satisfactory. On race day the sheriff thus had not one but three prizes. To use just one - the best - would be a waste. He therefore decided to present all three in their proper order, according to merit and value. That is how our present-day first, second, and third prizes came into existence.

Queen Anne of England originated the first horse racing sweepstake in 1714 when she stipulated that the owners of each of the 11 starters put up a fee of 10 guineas, the winner to take all. And it was only fitting that Star, her own horse, won the first cash prize ever awarded in a race.

When Napoleon was in charge of the French army of the interior, he offered a 12,000 franc prize.for a practical way of preserving food for his marching army. On hearing of this potential reward, Nicholas-Francois Appert, a French maker of conserves of fruit came up with the can, winning the reward and starting the canning industry.

Benjamin Nicolas Marie Appertt

The World's first rodeo with prizes awarded was held on July 4, 1869 in Deer Trail, Colorado. An unspecified amount of money was at stake, plus a suit of clothes donated by a Denver dry goods store.

The first Wimbledon tennis tournament in 1877 featured 21 men competing for a 25-guinea prize.

Alfred Nobel, was a Swedish chemist and millionaire, who invented dynamite and established almost 100 arms factories. In 1896, Nobel used his dynamite fortune to endow the Nobel Prizes.

French aviator Louis Blériot's flight across the English Channel on July 25, 1909, won him a £1,000 prize from the London Daily Mail which had been offered to the first person to fly across the sea that divides England and France.

The 'cakewalk' dance began in the southern USA as a competition in graceful walking, with cake awarded as a prize.

Cake walk poster 1896

Harold Macmillan's 1956 budget speech introduced premium bonds to Britain with prizes of up to £1,000.

In 1968, there were five million-dollar lottery winners who did not claim their prize.

The Templeton Prize is an annual award presented by the Templeton Foundation. Established in 1972, it is awarded to a living person who, in the estimation of the judges, "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works". The prize is named after Sir John Templeton, an American-born British entrepreneur and businessman, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his philanthropic efforts.

The Templeton Prize has typically been presented by Prince Philip in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The monetary value of the prize is adjusted so that it exceeds that of the Nobel Prizes, as Templeton felt "spirituality was ignored" in the Nobel Prizes.

Bernard D'Espagnat receives prize from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Buckingham Palace 

At £1,200,000, as of 2015, the Templeton Prize is the second largest single annual financial prize award (behind the Fundamental Physics Prize) given to an individual by a philanthropic organization.

The inaugural winner of the Templeton Prize, in 1973, was Mother Teresa. Six years later, when Mother Theresa won the Nobel Peace Prize, she announced that she planned to give the £100,000 ($150,000) award away to build more relief centers for lepers and the destitute.

Sergey Bubka broke the pole vault world record in 1984 then kept breaking it every year after by as small an amount as possible for the prize money.

Antonio Esfandiari holds the record for the greatest prize money won in a poker tournament. A one-time professional magician, in 2012 he bagged $18.3 million (£13.8 million) in Las Vegas.

Source Europress Encyclopedia

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