When Jon Matthews received word in April 2006 that he had mesothelioma and only months to live, the retired salesman decided to bet that he could outlive his doctor’s prediction.
Refusing to accept a quick death sentence, Matthews, who lived in Buckinghamshire, England, placed a £100 wager with odds of 50-to-1 that he would live until 2007. He won £5000—the equivalent of about $7,500 U.S. dollars.
Defying the odds, Matthews placed another bet of the same amount and odds that he would survive until June 1, 2009. He pocketed another £5000.
Bookmaker Graham Sharp, who took what he called the unique bet, told The Daily Mail newspaper that the bets had given Mr. Matthews an incentive to fight the disease, which is closely linked to asbestos exposure. Sharp said he was delighted to pay out the winning bet twice.
Sharp described Mr. Matthews as a positive man who had given much of his winnings to charity, but also spent some of it enjoying himself and betting on horses and dogs.
Matthews placed a third bet of £100 with 100-to-1 odds that he live until June 1, 2010. He would have collected £10,000 if he’d lived another few weeks. But he passed away on May 4 at the age of 60.
Still, he focused on enjoying life after receiving the diagnosis and lived far longer than expected.
Sharp said he was very sad when he heard that Mr. Matthews had died and was delighted that the wagers had given him so much enjoyment.
“He proved that what is often dispiriting news from a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make the most of the time you have left,” Sharp said.