6 World-Changing Contests

Many people enjoy playing contests every day. They play the lottery as much as possible, buy products that could have a prize inside, and enter online sweepstakes. But did you know that there have been several world-changing contests that have altered history? Check out some of these amazing contests that have changed the world.

Longitude Lottery

The Longitude Prize

In 1714, the British Government set up the longitude prize contest to seek out a way to provide longitude on ships to within half-a-degree (or two minutes of time) in order to properly navigate where they were going. John Harrison’s invention of a regulator to keep clocks accurate led him to develop a series of designs to do the same for clocks aboard ships. Eventually the H4, a portable clock developed to keep longitude accurate aboard ships, won the contest. It was three-times better than the required two-minute accuracy. Harrison’s portable clock made it possible for ships to begin tracking longitude along their routes, and keep them moving in the right direction.

Charles Lindbergh Prize

Raymond Orteig Prize

In 1912, an immigrant from France named Raymond Orteig acquired two New York hotels after working for years as a bus boy and café manager. The hotels became infamous among French airmen who were assigned to duty in the United States during the Great War. In 1919, Orteig held a contest offering $25,000 to the first person who could fly nonstop from New York to Paris. The winner of this contest was world-famous pilot Charles Lindbergh, whose historical flight changed the course of airplane engineering and now allows us to fly all over the world.

Ansari X Prize

Image courtesy of Kenko on Flickr.

Ansari X Prize

On October 4, 2004, the X Prize Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation whose mission is to bring about major breakthroughs to benefit humanity, awarded the $10 million Ansari X Prize to Burt Rutan and Paul Allen for the first privately-built and launched spacecraft. Rutan has gone on to continue to expand upon privately-built spacecraft and keep the space race going in a brand new direction.

Canned Food Prize

Canned Foods

In the 18th Century, Napoleon was looking for ways to feed his armies in a time when food was of short supply and spoiling too fast, so he held a contest, awarding a cash prize to whomever could develop a reliable way to preserve food. The winner, Nicolas Appert, developed a system of preserving foods in bottles. Today, canning is one of the most common methods of food preservation.

Great Wall Lottery


The Lottery can be traced back to 200 BC China, where the Hun Dynasty used it to raise funds for taxes. The Chinese lottery eventually turned into a popular game called Keno. Revenue from the game was used to build the Great Wall of China. Although the numbers have greatly increased, the Lottery still exists around the world, and is used to help fund government-run programs, such as schools.

Ireland Lottery

Irish Sweepstakes

In 1930, the Irish government authorized the use of a sweepstakes to help benefit Irish hospitals. It was established through a private trust, formed to run the lottery and sell tickets around the world. In its 57-year existence, it derived more revenue from the United States than any other country. Although the Irish sweepstakes came to an end in 1987, when it was replaced by a state lottery, it opened the doors for more sweepstakes to be developed around the country. Sweepstakes are now one of the most used contests to earn money around the world.



So keep entering all of your contests, sweepstakes, and lotteries. You never know which one could change the course of our history.

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