29+ Surprising Facts That Will Catch You Off-Guard


| LAST UPDATE 06/30/2021

By Mahlik Campbell

If you’re a fan of collecting random bits of useless information, then you probably already know that facts are often far stranger than fiction. We’re going to show you some of the most interesting, wild, and downright confusing facts out there that you would never expect to be true.

Michael Jordan Didn’t Make the Cut for His High School Basketball Team

It only makes sense that we’d start out with probably one of the most unbelievable facts out there. It’s no secret that Michael Jordan is one of the best basketball players in the world, and not many people would even imagine him being sacked from the NBA, let alone his high school team.

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Mike Powelll for Allsport via Getty Images

Even though he was fit to play on a varsity basketball team by the time he was a freshman in high school, Michael was not chosen to represent his high school’s team. This was tough, but the failure motivated him to become one of the best players ever.

Someone Bought “Invisible Art” for $10,000

It’s crazy to think about just how much the art world has evolved. These days, we have more and more people being paid to showcase the same style of art over and over, without really saying anything new - not Brainard and Delia Carey, though.

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Robert Alexander via Getty Images

They partnered with James Franco for a project called MONA, the Museum of Non-Visible Art. Aimee Davidson, a media enthusiast, was passionate about the project and decided to purchase a piece called “Fresh Air.” As you probably guessed, it doesn’t physically exist. We're not joking.

A Dog Was Mayor Once

Gone are the days when humans were the only species that could become mayors. Dogs will rule! Well, not really. There has only been one dog mayor (so far), and he was mayor of a small small town by the name of Cormorant, Minnesota. He seemed to have a successful run.

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Pinterest via dogIDs

This unusual election didn’t come without backlash, though. The citizens of Cormorant made their feelings of disagreement regarding the election of Duke, a Great Pyrenees, quite clear. He was elected in 2014 and served until 2018 before retiring.

Chewing Gum Is Illegal in Singapore

If you think you’re bothered by people chewing gum, wait until you visit Singapore. While most people agree that chewing gum is generally a nuisance, Singapore’s Prime Minister took his frustration with the candy to a whole new level when he declared it outright illegal.

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Lester Cohen for AMA2011 via WireImage

The decision was made in 1992 and was a result of the expense that cleaning gum off of public transport and other facilities was causing. Nowadays, Singaporeans may only purchase specific sugar-free gums that are sold by pharmacists and dentists. Even then, they have to keep a record of anyone that purchases them.

California and Antarctica Were Once the Same Temperature

Even though these two areas seem like complete opposites on the temperature spectrum these days, Antarctica hasn’t always been a frozen tundra - not until about 50 million years ago. Certain changes in the climate caused the region to freeze over.

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Torsten Blackwood - Pool via Getty Images

Quite interestingly, scientists discovered that the average temperature in Antarctica at the time was 57°F, which is roughly the same as California’s present coastline. What’s also interesting is that the polar islands near the snowy continent were about the same temperature as Florida.

Wimbledon Umpires Need to Learn to Swear Multilingually

It’s fairly common for swearing and cursing to be banned in sports. But tennis takes things to an entirely new level. In fact, there’s quite an interesting measure in place to prevent swearing altogether, regardless of the language being sworn in. Unfortunately for the umpires, this responsibility is theirs.

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Julian Finney via Getty Images

Umpires that have been chosen to officiate Wimbledon tennis matches are provided with a list of swear words prior to the game so that athletes can be penalized for using foul language. The list also includes words in languages that the umpire does not understand.

'Medicinal Ketchup' Was a Thing

Ketchup is probably the most-used condiment around the world, and it finds its way onto the dinner tables of millions of American households each night. However, it hasn’t always been so popular, and at one stage, it wasn’t even considered a food item.

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Mario Tama via Getty Images

Before 1834, ketchup was actually made using mushrooms or fish - until Dr. John Cooke made the decision to introduce tomatoes to the list of ingredients. After this was made, the doctor also claimed that his new concoction was beneficial to one’s health, as well.

LEGO: The World’s Largest Tire Manufacturer

You don't normally think of tires when you think of LEGOs. The image that usually comes to mind is one of hundreds of primary-colored bricks, being stacked atop one another to create unique contraptions. I mean, it's a kids' toy. What kid wants to play with tires?

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Steve Taylor for SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Well, when we say that “LEGO is the biggest tire manufacturer in the world,” we’re not talking about automobile-grade tires. They own the title because essentially every LEGO set includes wheels. The company makes more than 870,000 tires daily.

Match.com’s Founder Was Dumped Because of His Site

Gary Kremen made it big after he founded the incredibly-popular dating service known as Match.com. Quite ironically, though, one of the areas in his life that he still struggles with is dating. He can’t seem to find his match, and what’s more, his creation got him dumped.

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Business Insider / Tim Tadder via AP

After the dating website was launched, Gary’s girlfriend dumped him - and it was for a guy she met on the site, no less. No doubt, this was extremely heartbreaking for Kremen, but he decided to remain optimistic in spite of it all, since it proved that his site was a success.

Cans Came Before Can Openers

While that might seem like an obvious statement, the time between the invention of cans and the invention of can openers poses some questions. The former came 48 years before the latter, so how on earth were people opening their cans for 48 years before can openers?

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Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Fun fact: the outside of a can, at the time they were invented, which was in 1810, was so thick that they needed to be hammered open to get to whatever was inside them. Just imagine how many horrifying injuries this strange method must have caused.

G-Force Was Real... Sort Of

You don’t normally think of squirrels when you think of a top-secret spy. The image is usually of James Bond or some similar image. As a matter of fact, we never think of the small, furry rodent that makes its home inside trees and lives off of acorns.

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Matt Cardy via Getty Images

In 2007, intelligence officers in Iran thought it would be a good idea to arrest 14 squirrels and detain them. The claim they made was that the squirrels were in possession of spy equipment and that Western countries had sent them to undermine the country.

Charlie Chaplin Didn’t Look Like Himself Enough

The globally-famous Charlie Chaplin thought it would be a good idea to enter a “Charlie Chaplin Look-Alike Contest” in France in 1975. As you probably guessed, he expected to win, because, well, he was the real deal. Who wouldn’t expect to win just by looking like themselves, right?

Charlie Chaplin, Shocking FactsCharlie Chaplin, Shocking Facts
Pinterest via Veronnika Pavlova

To put it simply, Charlie did not get the result he was expecting. He was actually awarded third place overall. It is generally believed that his blue eyes were what threw the judges off, since you couldn’t see them through the black-and-white screens of the time.

The Prime Minister of Australia Vanished

There have been millions upon millions of missing persons’ cases around the world that remain unsolved, but this one is downright strange. Nobody expects the political front of a country to just vanish from the face of the planet, but it happened to Australia’s Prime Minister.

Harold Holt, Shocking FactsHarold Holt, Shocking Facts
Bettmann via Getty Images

On the 17th of December, 1967, Harold Holt decided to take a dip in the ocean with a few of his friends while they were vacationing at Portsea. His friends were cautious of the turbulent waters, but Holt wasn’t and ran into the sea. He was never seen again, unfortunately.

Birthdays Don’t Exist for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Birthdays are usually a time for people to party, receive a bunch of gifts, eat a lot of cake, and sit there awkwardly as their family sings, "Happy Birthday." However, there is a certain group of people that believes that birthdays should not be celebrated at all.

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Pinterest via Barbarella

They are known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their belief is that, because the only two birthdays that the Scripture mentioned ended with murder, birthdays should not be celebrated. Birthdays are not condemned anywhere else in the bible, so other denominations still celebrate them.

There’s a Toilet Restaurant in Thailand

Most people usually feel a little sick to their stomach when they think of eating anywhere near a toilet, but this restaurant in Thailand has embraced the cringe-worthiness of the matter. It has dedicated the restaurant to the theme of, you guessed ti, toilets - which is odd, to say the least.

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Instagram via @ noireccentric

However, they’ve been quite successful, so there’s obviously something quite attractive and intriguing about the combination of toilets and food. The food is served in mini toilet bowls, the seats are toilets that work, the tables are sinks, and the cups are small urinals.

Camels in Saudi Arabia Are Imported

Most people know Saudi Arabia as the land of sand, camels, and long garments that are meant to keep the wind out of your face - and the sand out of your mouth. One would think that a place like this would have no shortage of camels, but you’d actually be mistaken.

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Instagram via @kylevollaers

Sure, there are quite a lot of camels living in the region, but most of them were imported and are not actually native to the country. They are used for racing and domestic purposes, and the country still has to import more for their meat. Most food-grade camels come from Australia.

Nigeria Arrested a Goat

Here, we have another criminal encounter with an animal. The Nigerian police arrested a goat because they suspected that it committed an armed robbery back in 2009. The goat was originally captured by a vigilante group, because they thought it was a car thief.

Goats, Shocking FactsGoats, Shocking Facts
Instagram via @ babygoatsdaily

The goat was then taken into custody by the police, and they only released it when the investigation was over. The only reason all of this even happened, though, was because witchcraft is a strong belief amongst Nigerian people. In fact, the vigilantes through the goat was a car thief that changed form.

Cereal Boxes Are Looking at Your Kids

You’ve probably noticed that all of the mascots on the boxes for children’s cereals are looking downward. There’s a reason for that, and it’s actually kind of eerie. Cornell University conducted a study that revealed an interesting tactic implemented by cereal manufacturers.

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Tim Boyle via Getty Images

The study concluded that the mascots were designed looking down intentionally so that they could appeal to different demographics. This is also the reason why the cereal boxes are on the lower shelves - so that kids can look into the mascot’s eyes.

California Protects Frogs by Law

Most folks know that frogs are quite the delicacy in France, but if you enjoy indulging in this amphibian delight, then you’ll be quite disappointed when you visit California. This state has a strict ban on the killing and consumption of the animal.

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Mark Wilson via Getty Images

The general consensus is that this law exists to protect people from eating animals that might not be safe for consumption, like poisonous frogs. The hunting of red-legged frogs was also noted to be a practice in the state and was drastically reducing their population.

Workers Strikes Have Existed Forever

Disputes in the workplace are quite a modern problem, but they actually date back further than you might have thought. In fact, they have actually been around since the times of ancient civilizations. It looks like bosses never change, and neither do employees.

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Scott Heins via Getty Images

Historians state that the first-ever labor strike in recorded history happened in 1170 BC. Apparently, the strike was a protest against the construction of the ancient pyramids, and it happened in Deir el-Medina - a village in ancient Egypt.

Most Matter Is Empty

This one is quite difficult to fathom. You may know that everything in the universe is made from trillions of atoms, and those atoms are made from tiny things called molecules. There is a kind of bubble that surrounds each atom, which prevents their molecules from touching and combining.

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NASA for ESA via Getty Images

But get this: If you removed all of the space that is inside our atoms, all of humanity - that’s roughly seven billion people - would be able to fit inside of a single sugar cube. Isn’t that crazy? Now imagine how much nothingness is in space.

The US Considered Nelson Mandela a Terrorist Until 2008

The famous South African leader was only removed from the US terrorist watchlist in 2008. Before then, the American government considered him a terrorist. Even after apartheid was ended and Mandela became president, he had to apply to enter the US.

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Georges De Keerle via Getty Images

We bet you never expected to hear that, huh? According to Robert Trent Vinson, a dedicated historian, Nelson Mandela was viewed as someone “on the wrong side of the Cold War.” Of course, as you already know, though, a lot has changed since then. And Nelson was indeed, a legend.

Scottland's National Animal: The Unicorn

Yes, you read that right. You already know that the Scottish are responsible for some of our favorite folktales, but did you know they've got more tricks up their sleeves than their scheming Leprechauns? Well, sort of. Folks, meet their national animal: The unicorn.

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Instagram via @ unicorn_of_ig

That's right, not only did their late 15th-century coins feature the fairytale creature, but they've actually designated a national holiday on April 9th for, you guessed it, National Unicorn Day. Anyone else suddenly interested to take a trip around the globe this spring?

Cheetahs... Meow?

What would you do if you found yourself face to face with these beautiful creatures? With their notorious ability to run up to 70 miles per hour, these fierce animals are one of the top predators in the wild. But did you know they're actually about as intimidating as your pet cat?

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Juergen Ritterbach for Barcroft Media via Getty Images

That is, if you were basing them solely on the sounds that came out of their mouths. You probably thought they produced a piercing roar, like Joe Exotic's tigers, didn't you? The reality is that cheetahs are physically incapable of doing so, and actually only purr, or meow, like our house cats.

High Heels Were Invented For Men

Granted, James Charles has helped prove that just about anyone in this day and age can slay in a pair of red bottoms, but did you know that heels were actually created for men? Yep, those stilettos you see Kim Kardashian sporting were never truly meant for her. You might want to take a seat for this one.

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Timothy A. Clary for AFP via Getty Images

Back in 15th century Persia, just about every soldier was stepping out in the painful platforms to help secure their feet in stirrups; French King Louis XIV, soon followed in their footsteps, literally, as he introduced the first red-bottomed heels and, well, the rest is history.

Clouds Are Actually Very, Very Heavy

From dinosaurs to shapes, to everything in between, those fluffy clouds in the sky have been blessing our imaginations with our favorite pastime since we were little. But they're a lot more deceiving than you thought. In fact, did you know they weight about as much as 100 elephants?

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Instagram via @clouds.say.hello

Yes, you read that right. According to scientists, the average weight of a cumulus cloud is, get this, 1.1 million pounds. In other words, as you're reading this, there are millions of pounds of water floating above your head in those 'airy' things.

Frankenstein isn't a Monster

For most of us, the name 'Frankenstein,' takes us back to that horrifying, green creature who first plagued our television screens - and nightmares - back in 1910. But what if we told you that you've had it all wrong this entire time? In fact, Frankenstein isn't a monster, at all.

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Bettmann via Getty Images

That's right, the name, 'Frankenstein,' actually belongs to the mad scientist behind the fan-favorite villain. So, what's the name of Victor Frankenstein's creature, the one he famously brought to life? Well, it's actually quite simple: 'Frankenstein's monster.'

'OMG' Dates Back to WWI

Had to be the bearer of bad news here, but you're not the first one to have used 'OMG' in your messages. As a matter of fact, the first use of the word dates back much longer than you ever would have expected. In fact, the abbreviation dates all the way back to the battlefield - and we've never been more impressed.

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Pinterest via Natália

Back on September 9th, 1917, Lord Fisher, a retired admiral of the British navy, sent a letter to future prime minister, Winston Churchill. What'd he write? "O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) Shower it on the admiralty!" We're not joking. Now, if only he could explain the second part of that message. Perhaps we'll never know…

The Supreme Court Has a Basketball Court

When you think of the Supreme Court, you probably don't picture those well-respected judges to be battling it out anywhere other than, well, within those courtroom walls. But guess what, folks: There's another exclusive court down in Washington, and something tells us this one is where all of the action truly happens.

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Mark Wilson via Getty Images

Meet "The Highest Court in the Land," otherwise known as the storage room for the (judicial) stars. Confused? Allow us to break it down for you. On the fifth and top floor of 1 First Street NE, lies a storage room-turned-super-exclusive basketball court, 78 feet long and 37 feet wide. If these judges weren't ballers before, they certainly are now.

Cows Have Accents

As Old MacDonald once reminded us, step onto any farm and you'll probably hear a moo-moo here, and a moo-moo there. But did you know that there's actually a whole lot more going on within those fenced pastures than that which meets our ears?

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Instagram via @cowsofnewzealand

That's right, according to studies, cows have regional accents. But don't take our word for it: "I spend a lot of time with my ones, and they definitely moo with a Somerset drawl," farmer, Lloyd Green, from Glastonbury, once said. "The closer a farmer's bond is with his animals, the easier it is for them to pick up his accent."