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The Incredible Story of a Michigan Man Who Was Once the World Champion of Atari


In the early 1980s Atari conceived a grand video game/real life crossover treasure hunt and competition known as Swordquest. In 1983 a man from Detroit claimed one of the most incredible prizes in the history of gaming, a $25,000 gold “talisman.”

According to a story published by AtlasObscura,

Atari commissioned five…prizes worth a total of $150,000, all to promote their new fantasy adventure game series, Swordquest. The Swordquest contest, one of the most audacious in video game history, offered players the chance to go on a digital quest for real treasure. They would follow a trail of esoteric clues from video game to comic book to live tournament, all for the chance to win real prizes valued at tens of thousands of dollars.

When tournament time rolled around,

Stephen Bell, an unemployed 20-year-old from Detroit, took home the victory after he completed the game in just 46 minutes. Bell was given the Talisman of Penultimate Truth, a solid gold pendant inlaid with diamonds and other precious stones. It was also hung with a small, white gold sword.

What happened to the $25,000 talisman? Melted down for cash.

More: There’s a Hidden Message in the Little Caesars Logo I’ve Never Seen Before

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