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Never Tell Me the Odds

Robert and Rita Lucas got a divorce in 1988 after 29 years of marriage. In the settlement papers, Rita requested a clause specifying that if Robert won a Nobel Prize before October 31st, 1995, that she would get half the prize money. Robert Lucas is an economics professor at the University of Chicago (and still is). It was an odd clause, and fairly unprecedented in divorce settlements, but Robert agreed to it. You can guess what happened then

Robert was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics on October 10, 1995 — 21 days before the clause would have expired.

Asked about having to pay half the prize to his ex-wife, he noted philosophically that, "A deal is a deal." But added, "Maybe if I'd known I'd win, I would have resisted the clause."

That shows that a wife can learn a lot about her husband in 29 years. Rita Lucas, a trained pharmacologist, apparently learned a lot about money and probability in 29 years. Read a more detailed story of the incident at the Los Angeles Times.

Also: Albert Einstein’s first wife got his future Nobel Prize money in a divorce settlement, but he arranged that himself. When he and Mileva Marić divorced in 1919, Einstein expected to win the prize eventually. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics. The agreement stated that the prize money would go into a trust, from which Marić could use the interest, but Einstein had to approve any use of the principle. The purpose of the plan was to support their two sons. 

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