What do you call a female hedgehog?
Who shot Abraham Lincoln?
What part of an elephant has 100,000 muscles?
Who wants to be a millionaire?
“Invest a thousand bucks in our project and you could make a million,” suggested two fun-loving young Canadians as one winter 30 years ago they circulated around the bars of Nerja on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
It was an offer that was easy to refuse, especially as their main investment seemed to be in San Miguel beer. So everybody laughed and called for another round.
Everybody — except one fellow Canadian. “Why not?” he said and bought a share.
Today he’s a millionaire, for the project he invested in was Trivial Pursuit, possibly the most successful board game of all time.
More than 100 million copies of the game have been sold in 26 countries and in at least 20 languages. Estimated return: well over $1 billion.
The originators of the game were journalists Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. Haney’s death in Toronto on May 31, at age 59, after a long illness, has stirred memories of his struggles as a young man when he and Abbott wintered on the Costa del Sol while devising their game.
Haney, a high-school dropout, was working as a picture editor in Montreal when on December 15, 1979, he and sportswriter Abbott were playing Scrabble on the kitchen table. They wondered — between beers — if they could invent a game as good.
The idea took off and they searched for investors. In the winter of 1980 they quit their jobs to work on the project. They spent several months in Nerja, living at El Capistrano, a villa resort where Haney’s parents had a house.
They allegedly worked 16 hours a day figuring out details of their game and thinking up thousands of questions, the trivial the better. Most Nerja folk, however, saw only their hard-drinking side. They frequented local bars including El Capistrano’s La Cueva, idled on the Balcony of Europe and consumed paella — with adequate liquid refreshment — at Ayo’s popular restaurant on the Burriana beach.
They had found 33 people willing to cough up 1,000 dollars for five shares, or who had accepted shares in payment for services. But their savings were vanishing and they were desperate for cash.
They touted their idea around Nerja — but no takers. Invest in some unheard-of board game? Get serious! Finally, however, one resident decided to take a chance and become a shareholder.
At first it seemed Haney and Abbott had made a disastrous blunder. Nobody cared about their game with its 6,000 questions about inconsequential matters printed on 1,000 cards. They lost money on every game they sold.
But then, miraculously, sales began to climb. People loved the game. Within two years cheques began pouring into the shareholders’ bank accounts, including that of the Nerja investor. It was to prove one of the best investments ever. Trivial Pursuit sold by the million, all over the world.
Scott and Haney became multi-millionaires. They acquired golf courses, vineyards and racehorses. Haney, a scraggy six-footer with a handlebar moustache, loved Spain but hated flying, so every year he would take the Queen Mary 2 with his second wife to cross the Atlantic and spend time in Marbella.
He was in paradise on the Costa as he was a keen golfer, sometimes playing six days a week. With Abbott, he built in Canada two of North America’s top-ranked courses, the Devil’s Pulpit and the Devil’s Paintbrush
Wherever he went, in Nerja, Marbella, Montreal or Toronto, Haney was remembered as a generous, larger-than-life character.
HOW TRIVIA MADE A MILLION
What do you call a female hedgehog?