Check out the most expensive mistakes ever made! From losing winning lottery tickets to business deals gone terribly wrong, this top 10 list of epic fails resulted in a lot of money being lost!
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13. Star Wars Merchandising
When George Lucas persuaded Fox to release his film Star Wars: A New Hope, the company was not entirely on board. In fact, they were convinced that the film would flop. It’s a miracle the movie was made in the first place! In order to save a little money, the studio came up with what they thought was a clever solution. They persuaded Lucas to pass on an additional $500,000 in directing fees. In exchange, Lucas kept all of the licensing and merchandising rights for himself.
The movie, however, turned out to be a major, culture-shifting hit. In 1978, more than 40 million "Star Wars" figures flew off the shelves, reaching a gross sale of more than $100 million. The notoriety and love for the movie only grew with time. It didn’t even matter if a new movie was coming out, the toys continued to sell. For example, in 2011, a year where there was no new "Star Wars" movie, "Star Wars" toys brought in more than $3 billion. No so good for Fox, but George Lucas became a billionaire!
12. Mars Climate Orbiter
In the late 1990s, NASA developed the Mars Climate Orbiter to study the climate on Mars (like its name suggests). The purpose of the orbiter was simple and no one really expected anything to go wrong. It’s also the general assumption that NASA checks and double-checks everything. Well, with the orbiter, something small but critical slipped through the cracks.
On Sept. 23, 1999, the Mars Climate Orbiter crashed into the red planet. Why? Because of math. Specifically, because of a conversion error in the math. One engineering team in charge of the orbiter used metric units. Since most of planet Earth uses metric, that probably didn’t appear to be a problem, except that the United States is one of a handful of countries still on the Imperial System. A second team of engineers used feet and inches and the math was not properly converted.
This caused the navigation in the orbiter to go a little awry. After nearly 10 months in space, the Mars Climate Orbiter came too close to the planet’s surface on the day it was supposed to enter Mars’ orbit. In a written statement, NASA said, “People sometimes make errors.” This error cost $125 million and countless hours of work.
11. The Millennium Bridge
The Millenium Bridge in London opened in June, 2000. The designers called it a “pure expression of engineering structure” and were extremely proud of their cool, sleek bridge that cost 18.2 million pounds. It was the first bridge to be built over the Thames in more than 100 years and around 80,000 people crossed it on its opening day. Unfortunately, it had to be closed right away.
Why? Because it wobbled. As more and more people started walking on the bridge, it started to sway. To keep their balance, people started planting their feet wide and walking in near perfect unison.
Engineers used “lateral suspension” in building the bridge. This innovation allows bridges to be built without tall supporting columns. When a large number of people walked on the bridge, it caused a phenomenon known as “Synchronous Lateral Excitation”. Essentially, it swayed and twisted in regular intervals. As people started to walk in unison to adapt to the movement of the bridge, it just made it worse! The engineers blamed the “synchronized footfall” for the failure of the bridge.
It was closed and engineers installed dampers and springs to absorb the shock of all the pedestrian feet. The repair cost another five million pounds. Today, the Millennium Bridge still carries the nickname of the Wobbly Bridge, even though it doesn’t wobble any more.
10. Destruction of 150-year-old guitar
Quentin Tarantino’s Western The Hateful Eight is famous for several reasons but I think one of the most important scenes is when Kurt Russell’s character breaks a guitar. There was nothing particularly special about the acting of that moment, it was all about the musical instrument.
In the movie, Jennifer Leigh’s character strums a guitar and everyone told her to be super careful with it. It turns out the guitar used in that shot was a 150-year-old rare guitar rented from the Martin Guitar Museum in Pennsylvania.
Russell’s character is like, give me that guitar! And he snatches it from her hands and smashes it on a post.
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