Faith in Federer

Faith in Federer

One fan’s confidence in a tennis star leaves a charity more than $150,000 richer

Oxfordshire, England’s Nicholas Newlife knew what it meant to “put your money where your mouth is.” Back in 2003, Newlife watched 21-year-old Swiss tennis player Roger Federer receive his first major title with a win at Wimbledon.  Impressed by Federer’s athletic talent as he beat Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis, Newlife placed a bet of £1,520(approximately $2,300) that Federer would win six more Wimbledon titles by the year 2019.  Newlife placed his bet with British bookmaker William Hill, with odds of 66-to-1 that Federer would make Newlife a richer man—and proud.


Fast forward nine years to last Sunday, when Federer beat British tennis player Andy Murray at Wimbledon on July 8.  Unfortunately, Newlife didn’t see Federer’s 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory firsthand—Newlife died in 2009, unmarried, without any living heirs.  But he made sure his bet would live on and bequeathed the 2003 betting slip to Oxfam International, a worldwide confederation of 17 organizations, whose mission is to build a future free of poverty. 


In his will, Newlife left his worldly belongings to Oxfam—and within those belongings was the record of his 2003 bet.  Given the 66-to-1 odds, the original £1,520 bet today translates into a donation of £101,840 (about $157,597).   Oxfam says it plans to use the donation to help starving individuals and families living in West Africa.


For Oxfam, a bequest like this from Newlife isn’t all that unusual: Three years ago, the charity made good on Newlife’s bequest of another betting slip.  That betting slip paid Oxfam approximately £16,750 (about $25,990), as a result of Newlife’s bet that Federer would win 14 Grand Slam events—which he did, in 2009.


For at least one charity, the impact of Federer’s athletic prowess extends well beyond the boundaries of the tennis court.


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