By Paul Mallon
For Paddy Power himself it was a long-cherished dream to dress like a young William Shatner and wear snug-fitting lycra on a week day.
For Paddy Power Facebook fan Dean Saunders last week presented a less garish opportunity as he became the world’s first punter to place a bet from space.
Our Mischief Department blew the budget on this one and sent the company accountants into a sweat not seen since Rachel Riley was announced to star in the latest series of Strictly Come Dancing.
[Watch the video of how Paddy Power placed the first bet from space]
Kent native Dean, who’s not the same Dean Saunders of Aston Villa fame, won the opportunity to place the stratospheric bet after winning a competition on Paddy Power’s Facebook page which was run to celebrate PP becoming the first in the industry to surpass the one million fans mark on the social network.
Here’s a recap on how we placed the bet…
- A helium-filled balloon was launched into near space carrying a payload of a Raspberry Pi (a low tech computer), modified GPS unit, altitude sensor and a small radio transmitter
- When the payload reached a height of 100,000 feet (30 km) above Earth, the radio transmitter sent a trigger signal down to a ground station
- The trigger signal placed a bet using a web link to Paddy Power’s secure web servers
As with almost all momentous occasions it was gate-crashed in space by a fully-kitted John Terry (below).
Regarding Dean’s selections, Man City got him off to a flyer in Saturday’s early game before his acca came unstuck in the three o’clock and late kick-offs with Southampton, West Ham and Sunderland letting him down.
Fortunately for the Liverpool fan, Brendan Rodgers’ men would put the smile back on his face with their win over Manchester United on Sunday while Paddy Power were so bemused at his decision to put faith in Paolo Di Canio that we felt obliged to hand over a £5,000 consolation prize (and overall he did quite well).
Dean Saunders said: “It was great to have the chance to win £1,000,000 but if Paddy fancies sending anything else in to space I wouldn’t object to it being Big Sam and the rest of the managers who let me down.”