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Six weird ways to make a million

Cliff D'Arcy
by Lovemoney Staff Cliff D'Arcy on 17 December 2012  |  Comments 23 comments

These glittering prizes, awards and rewards need some clever or lucky winners!

Six weird ways to make a million

When I look at the various ‘rich lists’ produced each year by the likes of the Sunday Times and Forbes magazine, three things stand out.

Three routes to riches

First, the old-fashioned way of becoming wealthy -- by inheriting your fortune from a parent, spouse or other relative -- is still a sure-fire winner. Indeed, it’s the most common way for women to appear on these rich lists.

Second, building a successful business is another tried and tested route to riches. Most of the male multi-billionaires on these lists made it big by harnessing global capitalism to build dynastic wealth.

Third, investing is another great way to get wealthy, whether by buying shares, property or other assets, or by getting rich from other people’s money by, say, founding your own hedge fund.

Six wacky ways to wealth

Having looked at these established, conventional ways to wealth, I’m now going to show you six unusual, offbeat ways to make $1 million (£617,627) or more. Here we go:

1. Show you’re psychic

James Randi is a Canadian-American stage magician and internationally acclaimed pseudo-science sceptic. In 1996, Randi established the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) to debunk paranormal and pseudoscientific gobbledygook.

If you can produce, to Randi’s satisfaction, “evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event”, then the JREF’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge prize is yours. Good luck with that- to date no-one has passed the preliminary tests!

2. Prove the Riemann Hypothesis

In November 2002, a reclusive Russian mathematician, Dr Grigoriy Perelman, did something no-one in history had ever done: he solved a beautiful and difficult mathematical problem known as the Poincaré conjecture, which deals with four-dimensional space.

Hence, in March 2010, the Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts gave Dr Perelman a $1 million Millennium Prize, an award which he promptly turned down. The good news is that there are six other $1 million prizes awaiting the prodigies who can solve one of the remaining elusive mathematical problems.

For example, if you can prove the Riemann hypothesis, as set out by Bernhard Riemann in 1859, then a million bucks will be your reward. However, if you don’t have an outstanding mathematical talent, or the non-trivial zeroes of the Riemann zeta function don’t tickle your fancy, then you’d best skip this challenge.

3. Make a big business better

Every so often, a big business will launch a national or global search for someone who can come up with ways to improve its business model and thus make it more profitable.

For example, in 2009, US-based firm Netflix, which streams TV programmes and movies over the Internet, awarded the $1 million Netflix Grand Prize to a team of three scientists who wrote an improved algorithm for predicting user ratings for films.

Alas, Netflix decided to withdraw its second $1 million challenge, so we’ll have to wait and see which other companies are willing to pay big bucks in order to harness the public’s creativity.

4. Grab the Google Lunar X Prize

Google isn’t just the world’s most popular search engine; it is also a generous prize sponsor for research into science and technology.

One of the juiciest prizes on offer is the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million reward “for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 metres and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth.”

Registration for the competition closed on December 31st 2010 leaving 25 teams working on how to win the next race to the Moon. They have until 2015 to figure it out.

Unlike other, lesser challenges, this one really is rocket science!

5. Save the planet

British billionaire Richard Branson, of the famous Virgin brands, is terribly worried about anthropogenic (man-made) global warming.

Hence, in 2007, he launched the Virgin Earth Challenge, a $25 million prize for a “commercially viable design which results in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of the Earth's climate system.”

Now for the bad news: the official deadline for Virgin entries was the 8th of January 2010. However, with climate-change and other environmental prizes of $1 million-plus being launched frequently, you can still get rich by saving the Earth.

6. Become a best-selling billionaire

As the author of a modest-selling financial book, I know how the economics of writing a book stack up. Unless you’re a top-ranked writer, most of the sale price goes to the publisher, distributors and retailers that bring your book to market.

However, if you’re a budding author seeking inspiration, then look no further than J K Rowling, the author of the massively popular Harry Potter books. Thanks to book sales approaching 500 million, Rowling’s teenage wizard has made her into one of the world’s wealthiest women, worth an estimated $1 billion.

Although it’s said that there is a book in each of us, yours is unlikely to make you a millionaire, never mind a billionaire. Nevertheless, you could give it your best shot. To be honest, I’d be happy if my book sold one-thousandth as well as Harry Potter!

Over to you

Do you have any weird and wonderful ways to make a million, or did you strike it rich with an innovative idea? Please let us know in the Comments box below...

This is a classic lovemoney article that has been updated

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Make money from your hobby

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Five ways to make money from your car

How to make money in the evening

How to make the most money from your old iPhone



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Comments (23)

  • Christina Price
    Love rating 0
    Christina Price said

    I think the 'Million Pound Drop' television game with Davina McCall gives people the chance to make a million if played wisely. Watch this space;-)

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • maddogmack
    Love rating 5
    maddogmack said

    How about finding out where they are filming the next round of "Dragon's Den" stage a heist, and steal all that cash they have on their little desks?

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • benefits-phil
    Love rating 2
    benefits-phil said

    don't you like "forever in blue jeans" i think its a great song.

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • poppasmurf
    Love rating 32
    poppasmurf said

    Hate to shoot you down author these are rare people that can complete any of the above ;-).

    Yeah I know its for fun.

    Better off doing the lottery or working very hard at your own business.

    Like the look of saving the planet, what a noble cause.

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    There is also 'Who wants to be a Millionaire' if you like that sort of thing and can cope with Chris Tarrant for a while. I think if you can come up with an idea to take 10p off every person who plays Farmville on Facebook and only half pay you - that would be over a million quid...

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • RocketSteve
    Love rating 32
    RocketSteve said

    Be Kate Middleton? One way, if she (less her wealthy parents) wasn't already loaded to the tune of a million or two...

    Great post @Extremist. No one can say you shy away from your handle lol.

    As a rocket science educated person I'm very sure I could get a lunar lander to the moon, take video and move 500m or more for just a few million dollars. Anyone got the spare cash to get this underway please? (Thanks for making me that million!...)

    No, seriously I'm not sure why this hasn't been done yet. I nearly got Richard Branson to invest in my group project to build a hybrid rocket engine when I was at Uni. It all went south when the Malaysian government showed interest and then MI5 possibly 6 knocked and convinced us it's not such a good idea.

    Report on 08 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • dh1948
    Love rating 11
    dh1948 said

    Wasn't it the same Richard Branson who, when asked 'How do you become a millionaire?' replied 'Start as a billionaire, and then buy an airline.?

    Report on 11 March 2011  |  Love thisLove  3 loves
  • journo123
    Love rating 0
    journo123 said

    What a misogynistic and unneccessary sentence: "Indeed, it’s the most common way for women to appear on these rich lists."

    Report on 18 August 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • AndyP
    Love rating 26
    AndyP said

    Um... is it misogynistic if it's accurate?

    No-one's claiming women can't get rich on their own (cf. JK Rowling, mentioned at the end). But historically it happens less often. There are many reasons for this, and none of those reasons are "women are inferior", but it's still a fact.

    Report on 18 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • nickpike
    Love rating 308
    nickpike said

    I don't think Richard Branson made his riches from rags (meaning a poor or normal background). He went to a very exclusive school and had a wealthy background. He's in the club you see.

    Although he does tell a tale that his first office was a telephone kiosk.

    Report on 18 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • sodit
    Love rating 135
    sodit said

    As I understand the facts (correct me if I'm in error) is that Richard Branson undercut other record retailers because he was evading purchase tax. When the tax man caught up with him, his family paid his back taxes... anyone from a normal background would have had a family that was unable to do this, and would have gone to gaol. Then when a postal strike threatened to derail his mail order business, he borrowed the money he needed from an aunt to open a shop... anyone from a normal background would have had to waste months trying to persuade a bank to lend and would have probably gone out of business before being told "No".

    Consequently, I draw the conclusion that his background has had a significant impact on his business success.

    Report on 18 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • paddyIsleOfMan
    Love rating 1
    paddyIsleOfMan said

    i like Richard Branson, i think he has done a lot but after reading many books on the person, i find that he uses his Virgin brand to extrem and sells it to companies puts the Virgin brand on their company and takes 50% and all he gave them was the brands name.however i would like to point out that with his logo he does make most of the owners rich, but are they paper rich or really rich who knows? and as for the above comments i agree, i come from a working class back ground starting work at 15 and still working 32years later for myself, but if i had that logo on my business i would not complain about it, infact i would have retired before i was 20.

    Report on 19 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • TheImpostor
    Love rating 14
    TheImpostor said

    You forgot to mention drug dealing - drug dealers are among the richest and most powerful people in the world, thanks to the irrational and counter-productive policy of drug prohibition, a most disastrous social policy that is continued by all governments

    Report on 20 September 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • JamesXXX
    Love rating 3
    JamesXXX said

    The best way I can think to become a millionaire is to start as a billionaire and then spend profligately.

    If anyone can suggest how I can become a billionaire then I would be very grateful!

    Report on 31 December 2011  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • oldhenry
    Love rating 343
    oldhenry said

    If you are female then a good way is to marry a pop star , such as , say , Rod Stewart and then divorce him after a year claiming a chunk of his fortune. If you don't fancy Rod what about John Cleese? He seems up for a change of woman mow and again- at great cost to him..

    Sadly men do not seem to benefit from this type of game - to my knowledge ,proving that there is no equal rights . They are a con to get very unequal rights out of silly men.

    Report on 31 December 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • babyhk
    Love rating 10
    babyhk said

    Rod has now been married for years. "Old Henry " quite rightly says silly old men . Surely there must be some pay off for marrying an old wrinkly .What about men that actively seek Thai brides. Are all men silly? Most men cannot cope without a mother or a wife ... sad.

    Report on 31 December 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • andyshed16
    Love rating 0
    andyshed16 said

    I thought i had a good way of making money. On christmas day i won 1500 pound on the roulette but blew the lot a couple of days later. i would not recommend online gambling but if i had taken the money out i would no doubt have a different opinion.

    Report on 03 January 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Arblaster
    Love rating 43
    Arblaster said

    i like Richard Branson, i think he has done a lot but after reading many books on the person, i find that he uses his Virgin brand to extrem and sells it to companies puts the Virgin brand on their company and takes 50% and all he gave them was the brands name

    What are you complaining about? The object is to find ways of making a million. Branson has just shown you how: you think up a name for your company, and you hire it out to other people. It's called franchising.

    Report on 18 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    It seems that the report buttons don't work any more. So we've got a thread full of Mile's boring blog links and the small matter of incitement to murder of a specific individual.

    One way to make the site famous and the owners a million..

    Report on 27 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    You could also take the opposite approach to Randl and pretend to be psychic, dupe the gullible into believing that you can communicate with their dead relatives and fleece them for your fortune.

    You'll perhaps get a TV series and you're highly likely to get coverage in the Women' s magazines who all now seem to legitimise this scam.

    Report on 27 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Tanni
    Love rating 92
    Tanni said

    Become a politician. Regardless of which party; left,right or liberal....try to get in the cabinet or tender side and watch the millions roll in.

    Check out British Constitution Group to join the fight back to free our land from politicians who are in bed with corporations. It will blow some closed eyes open and put a smile on the faces of people who want to live in peace and harmony.

    Report on 27 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said


    The vast majority of politicians are trying to do a good job on very marginal pay for the hours they put in. I dropped in to my local MP's office today without an appointment and had a very good meeting with him on a serious matter he's looking into which has a bearing on all small business in the UK. Electiing idealistic numpties as our chosen representitives is certainly more affordable in the UK than most other countries so if you're so damn sure you know better then run for office. Otherwise stop whining.


    Psychics who are genuine don't make any money out of what they do and there definitely are genuine psychics out there. If you just want to diss hypocrites then pick any major religion and look at those who are leaders.

    Report on 03 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    EB, if you want to grab Tanni's attention I get the feeling that you need to post a conspiratorial one sided YouTube video and post the link for her. That will blow some closed minds open.

    I class religious leaders in the same group as the psychics. They all use mind games to give the gullible some comfort or to just amaze them. I think "genuine psychics" is an oxymoron. Charging or not, they are all a scam. Whether its a 'warm reading' in a one to one where they can get quite accurate or a 'cold reading' in front of an audience where large numbers help them more than subconscious feedback, the principle is the same. Derren Brown explains in detail how to do both in some of his books. You and I could do it although some are better than others with practice.

    Report on 09 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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