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Ballot Box

In October 1956, Los Angeles mentalist Jack Swimmer declared that he would predict the exact number of votes that President Eisenhower would receive that year in the nation, in California, and in Los Angeles County. A small box containing his predictions was placed in a larger box, which was locked in a county safe on Oct. 10, and Swimmer deposited $5,000 with the county board of supervisors, saying they could give it to charity if he failed.

On Nov. 13, a week after Election Day, the supervisors opened the smaller box and found a tiny roll of paper on which were written three numbers:

33,974,241
2,875,637
1,218,462

These corresponded exactly to the published totals. The board returned Swimmer’s money, and he donated it to charity anyway, saying he was happy with his “small part in bringing out the vote.”

Swimmer wouldn’t say how he had accomplished the feat, though he said there was nothing supernatural about it. “Some of the spectators later said the tiny roll of paper on which the figures were written could have been hidden in a hollow key and injected into the box when it was unlocked,” noted a UPI account. “But by the time they thought of it, the key was no longer available for inspection.”