December 21, 1872: Phileas Fogg wins his bet

FoggBy Aaron Falkenstein
Could He Travel Around the World in 80 Days?

If Phileas Fogg won this same bet today, the converted value of his wager would be $4.4 million

In 1872, after completion of the Suez Canal, the transcontinental railroad in the United States, and the Great Indian Peninsular railway, the journey around the world was reduced time wise. What had once taken several years could now be done in a few months. This inspired Jules Verne to write his novel Around the World in Eighty Days. It was not science fiction, since said journey could actually be accomplished in Verne’s time.

On October 2, 1872, at 8:45 PM, Fogg left London. He traveled by rail and steamboats from London to Suez via Mont Cenis and Brindisi, from Suez to Bombay, from Bombay to Calcutta, from Calcutta to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong to Yokohama, from Yokohama to San Francisco, from San Francisco to New York, and from New York back to London. He arrived in London at 8:50 PM, thinking he had lost the bet, but he didn’t know that he could still win.

Although Phileas Fogg kept a detailed account of his journey, he did not take into account the time zones. Since he traveled eastward, thus toward the sun, he gained an entire day by crossing the International Date. He arrived in London on what he thought was December 21, but was actually December 20. He could still win on his bet.

Phileas Fogg did win his bet. He arrived back at the Reform Club on Saturday, December 21 at 8:45 PM. He won the £20,000 that he bet to his fellow Reform Club members on October 2.

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