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10 Notable Things That Were Sold for One Dollar

by Jeffrey Morris
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

What can you buy for one dollar today? Maybe a few eggs, a fast-food hot dog, a candy bar, or yogurt. Not much. One dollar is very little, but this is where the irony of life sets in. There have been huge and notable things that were sold for $1. The transactions that fall under this category have to be the most remarkable in history. These are ten notable things that were sold for one dollar.

Related: 10 Worthless Items Sold for an Insane Amount of Money

10 Coca-Cola Bottling Rights

History of Coca-Cola | Secrets of Coca-Cola | Channel 5 #History

In 1886, the Coca-Cola Company came into existence when Dr. John S. Pemberton’s curiosity led him to discover the tasty drink that is popular all over the world today. What many people do not know is that for many years, it was only available as a fountain drink, and Pemberton was convinced that this was the best way to enjoy the drink. Pemberton would eventually sell Coca-Cola, and the person who purchased the majority stake was Asa G. Candler.

Candler had a business-savvy nephew who advised him to consider selling the drink in bottles, but Candler turned down the idea and stuck to Pemberton’s original notion of making Coca-Cola a fountain drink. When Candler was approached by businessmen who were interested in bottling the cola drink, he was convinced that the idea was dead on arrival. So he sold the bottling rights for $1 and did not even bother to collect the $1.

Today, the Coca-Cola Company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and is most commonly sold in bottles or cans.[1]

9 Newsweek

After Newsweek, Is Journalism’s Middle Class Dead?

Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine. The magazine was acquired by The Washington Post Company in 1961 and remained in its portfolio until 2010. However, revenue decline made The Washington Post Company choose to sell it, specifically to Sidney Harman. It was sold for one dollar on the condition that Harman would take on the magazine’s liabilities.

Much to WaPo’s dismay, I’m sure Newsweek is currently one of the most popular American news magazines today.[2]

8 Insulin Patent

Why Insulin Is So Expensive | So Expensive

Insulin was discovered by Sir Fredrick G. Banting at the University of Toronto in 1921 and was later purified by James B. Collip. It remains one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in history as millions of lives would be saved by the discovery, and it also triggered discoveries related to treating the illness.

On January 11, 1922, insulin was first used to treat a person with diabetes with remarkable results. Fredrick Banting refused to put his name on the patent because he felt it was unethical for a doctor to profit from a medical discovery that could potentially save lives, as this would reduce the number of people who would have access to the treatment.

Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. The irony of this situation is that Banting, Collip, and Best would be turning in their graves as their intention did not play out the way they wanted them to. Insulin today is costly, leading some diabetic patients to reduce or skip doses because of the cost.[3]

7 Rights to The Terminator Script

James Cameron Sold Rights to ‘Terminator’ for $1

James Cameron is arguably the world’s most iconic movie director. But it wasn’t always like that for him. There was a time when James Cameron was an unknown movie director, and nobody would stake much money on him. Cameron wanted an investor who would produce The Terminator, but since no one would take a chance on him, he sold off the rights to the movie for $1 on the condition that anyone who bought the movie rights would allow him to direct it.

What is most amazing about this particular sale is that some other studios loved the idea of The Terminator and were willing to pay reasonable money for the scripts, but none of them would give Cameron the chance to direct the movie. Cameron eventually found a studio that agreed to his terms. The movie was made in 1984 and is still popular in 2023. To cap it all, Cameron went on to become a successful movie director.[4]

6 TV Guide Magazine

Remembering TV Guide – Growing Up in America

The sale of TV Guide Magazine is another surprising occurrence in the world of notable items that were sold for $1. This was exactly how much Open Gate Capital acquired the business from Macrovision. Ironically, at the time of the sale, the cost of one magazine issue was $2.99. Yet, the entire business was sold for $1, which is less than half the price of one magazine. In fact, Macrovision also loaned Open Gate Capital the sum of $9.5 million to hit the ground running.[5]

5 The Dollar Baby Program

3 Stephen King Shorts – Dollar Babies & The Nightshift Collection

The Dollar Baby Program is an arrangement in which American author Stephen King grants permission to students and aspiring filmmakers or theatre producers to adapt one of his short stories for $1. There are, however, certain stipulations. One of the stipulations is that the film cannot be more than 45 minutes long and cannot be distributed to anyone without King’s consent unless it is for a non-profit film festival or a school project. King sees the Dollar Baby Program as a way to assist the creative industry.

One of the notable people who have benefitted from the Dollar Baby Program is French-born American filmmaker Frank Darabont. Darabont was 20 years old when he made his Dollar Baby Adaptation, The Woman in the Room. It was eventually released in 1986 on VHS by Granite Entertainment Group Interglobal Home Video as part of Stephen King’s Night Shift Collection.

Darabont later wrote adaptations and directed three feature films based on Stephen King’s novels: The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. The latter two films were nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including “Best Picture.” The Dollar Baby Program was disbanded on December 1, 2023.[6]

4 DuPont’s Plutonium-Producing Nuclear Site

Crawford Greenewalt and the Manhattan Project

The scientists of the Met Lab had the technical expertise to design a production pile for the Manhattan Project, but construction and management on an industrial scale required an outside contractor. Specifically, they needed one that had the expertise to carry out the enrichment of plutonium on the scale of the Manhattan Project. The Dupoint Company was the natural choice.

At the outbreak of World War II, the company was one of the nation’s largest and most experienced industrial organizations. The problem here was simple: Dupont as a company was still reeling from the scandal caused by the allegation that it profiteered during World War I. Seeing that another allegation would not be good for its image, the Dupont Company agreed to be the primary contractor for plutonium-related work, but the company would not receive more than one dollar for every one of the services it rendered. By doing this, history would be kind to the company that they were only being patriotic.[7]

3 Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The History of the Chocolate Chip Cookie – Depression vs WW2

Ruth Graves Wakefield was a chef who is best known for inventing one of the most iconic desserts in American history: the chocolate chip cookie. Wakefield was born in 1903. She was a college-educated chef, dietician, teacher, business owner and cookbook author. Wakefield and her husband opened a tourist lodge called “The Toll House Inn,” where she cooked all the food served at the inn.

Ruth quickly gained a reputation for herself for her inventive and uniquely delicious desserts. Wakefield accidentally made the chocolate chip cookies, and that was the birth of the much-loved recipe. The chocolate chip cookie’s popularity skyrocketed during World War II when soldiers stationed overseas received and shared packages containing the treat. Wakefield gave Nestle the rights to her recipe for just $1 and a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate.[8]

2 A Chicago Home

The Truth Behind Those $1 Detroit Homes

When you hear that a house was sold for one dollar, you might be tempted to believe that a toy house was involved. We have disappointing news. This is a real two-bedroom house. The owner of the house has remained the same since at least 1990, and ownership did not change hands until the owner was hit with a foreclosure suit in 2010. The outcome of the suit is that the bank repossessed the house.

This was the beginning of the process that led to the house being sold for $1. Chicago was not the only city hit by the housing bust of 2010. At around the same time, Detroit had the same problem. The situation in Detroit was worsened by the fact that the city had been in steady decline since the 1960s. By the time the mortgage crisis hit, it was like lighting a match stick close to a keg of gunpowder.[9]

1 Radio Rights for Star Wars

Star Wars Radio Drama | Behind the Scenes

The Star Wars franchise includes movies, cartoons, books, television series, comic books, theme park attractions, and merchandise that have an estimated value of $70 billion. It all began as the “eponymous 1977 film” but quickly snowballed into a worldwide pop culture phenomenon. It is one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

The Star Wars franchise made its creator, George Lucas, a very rich man. It also made Disney a richer company. In 1983, National Public Radio (NPR) wanted to turn Star Wars into a radio drama, and it approached George Lucas for the rights. Lucas was a fan of NPR himself, and he quickly gave out the right for one dollar. When we consider the worth of the franchise, it is not difficult for us to come to the conclusion that this is the most expensive thing ever traded for one dollar.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen