John Warne Gates, better known as “Bet-a-Million Gates” because he didn’t think twice about betting vast sums of money on, well, fucking anything, basically spent his entire adult life gambling in one form or another. Although Gates’ wife was more than happy to let her husband indulge his high-rolling lifestyle, he was always sure to keep a bunch of diamonds on hand if that ever changed.
If you’re wondering how Gates earned a nickname as baller as Bet-a-Million Gates, according to historians it’s because he once bet $70,000 (about 2 million today) on a single horse race and won, netting him a cool $600,000. For some reason the media didn’t think think a man having a set of balls dense enough to bet a bathtub full of money on a 10 to 1 longshot was that impressive, so Gates’ winnings were exaggerated to be over $1,000,000 because fuck him we guess.
Though there is no proof Gates ever actually gambled a million dollars on any single bet, he easily bet 10 times more than that over the course of his life. Some of the more impressive examples of Gates’ wager-penis in action include a time he bet thousands of dollars on whether or not a raindrop would reach the bottom of a window and another time he bet so much money on horse racing at one derby that the president of The Jockey Club asked him to stop because his nonchalant attitude to throwing away tens of thousands of dollars made it look like the races were rigged. Just let that soak in for a second, Gates looked like such a stone testicaled badass when he made bets that he was literally asked to stop betting so much money because it looked like he knew he was going to win, when in reality he just didn’t give a fuck.
It’s noted that whenever Gates embarked on a marathon gambling session in the hotel room he had on permanent lease, he’d always made sure to keep a few diamonds in his pocket to placate his wife if she ever got annoyed. According to legend, Gates would give his wife a handful of diamonds any time she complained that he gambling too much, at which point she’d mysteriously forget that she was annoyed and run towards the nearest jewellers to have them put into a new ring or set of earrings, buying Gates valuable gambling time in arguably the most inefficient, but ballin’ way possible.
But don’t let that story fool you into thinking Gates was that kind of rich guy because according to pretty much everyone who knew him, Gates was a real swell dude. For example, he once bought a hotel in Port Arthur in the late 19th century and rather than funding production of the entire thing himself (something he could easily have done) he invited local businessmen to invest and then promised to foot the rest of the bill because he wanted residents of the town to have a chance to earn money from the venture too. After the hotel was built, Gates then hired a bunch of African American waiters, despite the fact this was fucking Texas in the 1900’s because he didn’t give a shit what color people’s skin was as long as they worked hard.
When local people tried to protest the hiring of black people, because you know, Texas, Gates personally intervened by addressing the gathered crowds and making a heartfelt plea to not be dicks. Oh no wait, he told his valet to go get his gun and then promised to shoot the first motherfucker who tried and make one of his employee’s quit. Apparently after that, nobody ever complained again.
For more gambling related tomfoolery, why not read about the time Al Capone was hustled with a lemon.