In this week’s Random Facts edition: The Only Non-Elected President, Multiplying Starbucks, Hole-In-One Insurance, A Really Big and Expensive Ranch, and the Depopulation of Venice.
President Gerald Ford has been the only person to have served as President of the United States and Vice President without being elected to either office. Ford became America’s 38th president on August 9, 1974 after Richard Nixon resigned because of the Watergate scandal.
Ford’s rise to the presidency unknowingly began when there was a break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in 1972 while he was still a U.S. Representative from Michigan and the House Minority Leader. It wasn’t until the vice-president at the time, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 because of charges of extortion, taking bribes, and tax evasion (that didn’t have anything to do with Watergate) that Ford was picked to be the vice-president. Nixon appointed Ford using the 25th Amendment, Section 2, which deals with a vacancy in the position of the vice-president. It was the first time the 25th Amendment had been used in history. He was confirmed by a majority vote by both chambers of Congress, and in less than a year, he would be vaulted into the role as president after Nixon resigned without ever being elected to either office. Ford also used the 25th amendment when he nominated Nelson Rockefeller to fill the vacancy he had left behind. Source
There’s a reason that it seems like there is a Starbucks on every street corner. Between 1987 and 2007, Starbucks opened, on average, 2 stores everyday. At the end of 1987, Starbucks had 17 stores in its inventory, and by 2007, twenty years later, it had 15,011. That’s 2.05 new stores opened every single day. As of June, 28, 2015, Starbucks had opened 22,519 stores worldwide. Since 1987 until mid-2015, Starbucks had increased the average to 2.2 of the number of stores it had opened per day. That’s a lot of growth. Source
The odds of hitting a hole-in-one is about 12,500 to 1, but even though the odds are low, golfers in Japan don’t like to take any chances and protect themselves if they happen to hit that perfect shot. They do this by purchasing “Hole-in-One” insurance. If the golfer happens to hit a hole-in-one, the policy will cover the expenses of the feat, and there’s a good reason why they pay for such a thing in Japan. By tradition, a hole-in-one is believed to be a stroke of good fortune, and as such, the person should reciprocate to those around them in order to not have misfortune in the future. The golfer is expected to celebrate their feat by buying drinks, food, and gifts for all their golfing buddies which can end up costing them a lot of money. This is where the “Hole-in-One” insurance comes in and mitigates the risk by covering the cost of the celebration. To receive the benefit of the policy, a hole-in-one golfer just needs their shot witnessed by someone else for the policy to kick in.
“Hole-in-One” insurance came about in 1982 and was offered by the Kyoei Fire and Marine Insurance company to cover the lavish affairs brought on by a hole-in-one and to protect those who just didn’t want to take a chance. But the insurance isn’t just limited to Japan. In other countries it’s used by golf tournament organizers offering some type of expensive prize for hitting a hole-in-one during a tournament. So it might be a good idea that if you’re golfing in Japan you should either golf alone or make sure no one is looking in case you hit a hole-in-one. Or you could just buy a policy. Source
Waggoner Ranch is a ranch in Texas that went up for sale in August 2014 for an amazing asking price of $725 million. It became the largest sale amount ever offered for an American ranch. The ranch, which was established in 1852 near Vernon, Texas in north Texas, is the largest ranch in the U.S. that is enclosed in one fence. It covers almost 800 square miles of land across six counties and is 535,000 acres. The size of the ranch is larger than the cities of Los Angeles and New York combined. There are 14,000 cows and bulls on the land, 5oo horses, and 30,000 acres of it are farmland. In addition, the ranch has 1,100 oil wells and a lake that supplies water to the city of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Six buyers put up cashier’s checks in the amount of $15 million each to even bid on the property, and four finalists were selected to go on. In February 2016, the ranch was sold to Stan Kroenke, a billionaire who also owns the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Nuggets. Source
The population of Venice, Italy has decreased dramatically from 174,000 people in 1951 to below 60,000 today because of lack of jobs and the high cost of living. The number of tourists has exploded however, from 1 million per year in 1950 to 20 million per year now. Of those 20 million that visit, only about half stay in hotels in the city while the remaining majority arrive by cruise ships that have increased in number in the last fifteen years. While the number of tourists bring in millions of dollars, it has driven up prices for food, housing, and transportation (since their are no cars), causing many workers to live outside the city. Property owners are finding that they can rent out their homes to wealthy tourists for a much higher price than a local could afford. It’s even being predicted by demographers that by 2030 there will be no full-time residents left in Venice.
But the throngs of tourists driving up prices aren’t the only problem. The Adriatic Sea continues to flood the city, damaging buildings and causing a further depression to the number of apartments for rent. There are even predictions that the city could be completely underwater in 80 years. The Italian government has been building gates to counter the rising of the sea, but even this has been marred by controversy when it was discovered that a number of public officials had been skimming money from the project. It seems that many of Venice’s problems won’t have an easy solution anytime soon. Source, Source
That’s it for the 70th big issue of the Random Facts of the Week. To catch past issues, check out the Random Facts archive. Thanks for reading!