January 8, 2010

Long Shot

Stories of people betting on something with very bad odds, mostly because they have no other choice.

Calvin Borel celebrates his victory aboard Mine That Bird. Image by Amber MacPherson.


Host Ira Glass talks to Leo Paur, coach of a high school football team in Utah that hasn't won a game in two and ahalf seasons, about how he motivates his team to keep going after so many crushing defeats. Namely: You decide that you're about to turn things around. You decide that you are the miracle long shot team that will come from behind and beats the odds. Case in point, the 2009 Kentucky Derby, whose winner was the second-biggest long shot in the history of that race. You can watch video of that win here. (8 minutes)

Act One

Hasta La Vista, Maybe

In California, Maryland and Oklahoma, the governors can over-rule parole boards' decisions to free prisoners serving life sentences. In all three states this has evolved to the point where very few prisoners get released. For years Nancy Mullane followed the case of Don Cronk in San Quentin Prison, to see what would happen as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reviewed his case. Though Cronk knew the odds were against him, he found it hard to stop himself from believing he'd get out. Nancy Mullane is the author of a book called Life After Murder and putting together a two hour documentary on other lifers in Don's situation. (27 minutes)

Act Two

House Dutiful

When Wells Tower started to try to fix up and save his dad's house, he knew it'd be incredibly hard. Lots of people told him not to. But he couldn't help himself. A version of his story ran in the Washington Post a few years back. He's the author of the book Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned. (19 minutes)