Stories of the world’s unluckiest people

  1. Walter Summerford
    1. Lightning bolts are powerful things; each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity in one single flash. Walter was a sportsman, who was struck by lightning three times! Four years after his death, his gravestone was also struck- spooky! However, ex-park ranger Roy C. Sullivan holds the Guinness World Record for surviving being hit by lightning seven times throughout his life! As a result, he lost one of his toenails and both eyebrows; he burned his left shoulder and legs; his hair set on fire twice; he injured his ankle, and he scorched his chest and stomach- poor man!
  2. Ronald Wayne
    1. Ronald co-founded the international technology company, Apple, and even designed its famous symbol. But, he decided to sell his 10% stakes in the company very early on for just $800. In his words, 'I left because I didn’t feel that this new enterprise would be the working environment that I saw for myself, essentially for the rest of my days'. Had he stayed working for the organisation, he would be worth $35 billion today. Now that’s unlucky…  
  3. Adolphe Sax
    1. Adolphe Sax invented the Saxophone- a fantastic achievement, but unfortunately his private life wasn’t so impressive. As a child he fell from a third-storey window and was thought dead. He then went on to swallow a pin; be involved in a nasty gunpowder accident; be burned by a frying pan; get poisoned three times by fumes from varnish; almost drown in a river, and be knocked on the head by a cobblestone! 
  4. Carolyn Davidson 
    1. Most major graphics for the big brands are dreamed up by huge multinational advertising firms, but Nike is rather different. Back in 1971, a woman named, Carolyn Davidson was studying graphic design at Portland State University. She was in need of a little extra cash to fund oil painting classes, and met a man that would one day go on to create Nike. He paid her $2 an hour to help him with some projects he had. One day he mentioned that he wanted her to create a logo for a sports shoe. Carolyn created the now-infamous ‘Nike Swoosh’, saying that her design represented movement, speed and fluidity, as well as a wing which relates to ‘Nike’ being the name of the Greek goddess of victory. The shoes were made, and Carolyn was paid just $35 for the design. Since the brand’s success, however, she's been given significant shares in the company to thank her for her work.
  5. James Dean
    1. 1950s Hollywood actor, James Dean is well-known for being a star of the movie world, but his life was anything but glamorous. When he was small his mother died, and shortly afterwards his father sent him away to school. He ended up transferring back to Santa Monica where his father was based, and then left there to take up acting. At the very beginning of his career, James was sadly killed in a car accident whilst driving at the junction of Route 466 and Route 41 in California, aged just 24. 
  6. Harvey Ball 
    1. You may not know who Harvey Ball is, but chances are you’ve sent one of his designs to your friends already today. Yes, that’s right- he created the smiley face icon (like the smiley emoji)! In the 1960’s, Harvey was hired to create a visual image for a company running a ‘friendship campaign’, and it took him less than 10 minutes to come up with the symbol we all find so familiar today. He was paid just $45 for doing this work. Unfortunately though, neither Harvey nor the company he was working for, copyrighted the image. This meant that they missed out on the income that they could have gained from the creation. Some might say this was really unlucky, but apparently Harvey didn’t regret it; his son once said “He was not a money-driven guy.”