Paddy Power pays out on Obama victory

The bookmaker is pretty certain of the outcome.

Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, has paid out on all bets that Barack Obama will win the US presidental election a day early, claiming that Obama is "a nailed-on certainty" to win a second term.

The move is part publicity stunt, part business move, and part a betting company taking a bet on the election – to the stake of $650,000, according to a press release from Paddy Power.

The publicity stunt aspect is pretty obvious – you're reading this story, after all – but the business move is slightly more interesting. Paddy Power, as with any betting company which pays out early, hopes punters will re-invest their winnings in a more uncertain bet on the election. The bookmaker is pushing the idea that the margin of victory is a fun bet to take part in, and it's certainly one where you could win more money: the odds of an Obama victory bottomed out at just 2/9, while if you follow Jim Cramer's prediction of a gigantic Obama victory, you could get 25/1.

And as for the bet on the election – well, Paddy Power will be pretty annoyed if they've called it wrong and have to pay out on Romney as well.

Paddy Power in 2011, when the company changed its name to celebrate Obama's visit to Ireland. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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For the Ukip press officer I slept with, the European Union was Daddy

My Ukip lover just wanted to kick against authority. I do not know how he would have coped with the reality of Brexit.

I was a journalist for a progressive newspaper.

He was the press officer for the UK Independence Party.

He was smoking a cigarette on the pavement outside the Ukip conference in Bristol.

I sat beside him. It was a scene from a terrible film. 

He wore a tweed Sherlock Holmes coat. The general impression was of a seedy-posh bat who had learned to talk like Shere Khan. He was a construct: a press officer so ridiculous that, by comparison, Ukip supporters seemed almost normal. He could have impersonated the Queen Mother, or a morris dancer, or a British bulldog. It was all bravado and I loved him for that.

He slept in my hotel room, and the next day we held hands in the public gallery while people wearing Union Jack badges ranted about the pound. This was before I learned not to choose men with my neurosis alone. If I was literally embedded in Ukip, I was oblivious, and I was no kinder to the party in print than I would have been had I not slept with its bat-like press officer. How could I be? On the last day of the conference, a young, black, female supporter was introduced to the audience with the words – after a white male had rubbed the skin on her hand – “It doesn’t come off.” Another announcement was: “The Ukip Mondeo is about to be towed away.” I didn’t take these people seriously. He laughed at me for that.

After conference, I moved into his seedy-posh 18th-century house in Totnes, which is the counterculture capital of Devon. It was filled with crystal healers and water diviners. I suspect now that his dedication to Ukip was part of his desire to thwart authority, although this may be my denial about lusting after a Brexiteer who dressed like Sherlock Holmes. But I prefer to believe that, for him, the European Union was Daddy, and this compulsion leaked into his work for Ukip – the nearest form of authority and the smaller Daddy.

He used to telephone someone called Roger from in front of a computer with a screen saver of two naked women kissing, lying about what he had done to promote Ukip. He also told me, a journalist, disgusting stories about Nigel Farage that I cannot publish because they are libellous.

When I complained about the pornographic screen saver and said it was damaging to his small son, he apologised with damp eyes and replaced it with a photo of a topless woman with her hand down her pants.

It was sex, not politics, that broke us. I arrived on Christmas Eve to find a photograph of a woman lying on our bed, on sheets I had bought for him. That was my Christmas present. He died last year and I do not know how he would have coped with the reality of Brexit, of Daddy dying, too – for what would be left to desire?

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era