Top 10 Odd News stories of 2021: Cow stuck in tree, 'testicle bath'

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Dec. 22 (UPI) -- When historians write the book on 2021, they might not remember the 12-year-old Lego master, the Massachusetts alligator or the cow stuck in a Louisiana tree. Fortunately, UPI Odd News is here to help.

The year proved to be unusual in numerous ways, including the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the start of President Joe Biden's administration. But it also was also the year that Samuel Adams released a beer that's illegal in 15 states and a German inventor's "testicle bath" birth control device won a Dyson Prize.


Here are UPI's Top 10 Odd News stories of 2021:

Boy, 12, breaks Guinness record with 'Star Wars' Lego set

Haddon Haste, 12, of Louisville, Ky., earned a Guinness World Record when he assembled the Millennium Falcon micro fighter kit in 1 minute, 59.72 seconds.


Matthew Haste, Haddon's father, said his son had sought to combine his duel loves of Lego and Star Wars to set a Guinness World Record amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am proud of my son for his hard work on this record attempt, and I am grateful for your organization for encouraging him to pursue something meaningful in the midst of an otherwise difficult year," the father told Guinness.

Alligator spotted swimming in Massachusetts river

Joseph Matteson, of West Springfield, Mass., was walking along the Connecticut River in August when he snapped a photo of an unusual non-native animal: an alligator.

Wildlife experts said the alligator's story could have ended tragically when the river turned cold for the winter, but nearly four months later, a kayaker who had seen footage of the gator on the news set out to find the reptile in the Westfield River, a tributary of the Connecticut.

Jeremy White, of Agawam, successfully plucked the 3-foot gator out of the water in early December and turned the animal over to wildlife authorities. West Springfield Animal Control said the alligator was placed with a local reptile specialist.

Cow rescued from Louisiana tree after Hurricane Ida


The government of Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish government said public employees Tyler Acosta, David Palmer and Roy Ragan Sr. teamed up with private citizen Louis Pomes for an unusual rescue when a cow was found stuck in a tree.

The parish said in a late-August Facebook post that the cow had ended up wedged in a tree near the Florissant Highway when floodwaters from Hurricane Ida receded.

The rescuers used chainsaws to prune branches from the tree until the cow could safely be lowered back down to the ground.

Teenage friends split scratch-off lottery ticket, win $3M

Tennessee friends Wyatt Close and Brandon Thompson, both 19, said they stopped at a local QuickTrip store, where Close talked Thompson into going 50-50 on scratch-off lottery tickets.

Close told Tennessee Lottery officials the store turned out not to have the tickets he wanted, so he selected two Jumbo Bucks Titanium instant tickets, and the friends split the cost.

The duo scored a $3 million jackpot from one of the tickets and said they would split the money evenly. The teenagers said their winnings would go toward saving, investing and building new homes.


'Testicle bath' birth control device earns Germany's Dyson Prize

Officials with the James Dyson Award, which "celebrates, encourages and inspires the designers of new problem-solving ideas" in a variety of countries, said Germany's 2021 award was given to Rebecca Weiss, an industrial design graduate from the University of Munich and inventor of the COSO male birth control device.

The COSO uses an ultrasound "testicle bath" to temporary stop sperm mobility. The device only needs to be used every few months to keep the sperm inert and prevent eggs from being fertilized during sex.

As Germany's winner of the Dyson Award, Weiss was shortlisted for the international award, which carries a $45,000 prize. The international award ended up going to a National University of Singapore team who developed HOPES, a wearable biomedical device for at-home intraocular pressure testing.

Maine lobsterman finds ultra-rare 'cotton candy' lobster

A Maine lobsterman made a 1-in-100 million discovery when he found a lobster with an extremely rare "cotton candy" color scheme in early November.

Get Maine Lobster, a Portland-based direct-to-consumer seafood company, said Bill Coppersmith, a lobsterman who supplies crustaceans to the company, found the rare lobster during a recent day of fishing.


The lobster, dubbed Haddie, was spared the dinner plate and was instead given a new permanent home at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, N.H.

Samuel Adams' latest potent beer is illegal in 15 states

Boston-based brewer Samuel Adams released the 12th version of its Utopias brand, which rolls out every two years, on Oct. 11, and the beer proved notable for more than just its price tag -- $240 for 25.4-ounce bottle.

The brewery said the beer is 28% alcohol by volume, making it illegal to sell in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

A bottle of Utopias autographed by Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch and the crew of the Inspiration 4 civilian tourism mission to space was auctioned to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Woman wins $2M from lottery ticket she received as a gift

Karen Urtecho Sandrez, of Charlotte, N.C., collected a $2 million lottery jackpot in July, and she told North Carolina Education Lottery officials she hadn't actually paid for the $20 scratch-off ticket.


Urtecho Sandrez said the 100X The Cash scratch-off ticket had been a gift from a family friend who bought the ticket at Lucia Food Mart in Stanley. The ticket earned Urtecho Sandrez a $2 million jackpot.

"I could not believe it, honestly," the winner recalled. "You read it and you don't believe it."

Athlete known as 'Dutch Giant' named world's tallest bodybuilder

Guinness World Records said Olivier Richters, known as the Dutch Giant, was dubbed the word's tallest non-competitive/professional bodybuilder after his height was officially recorded in Eemnes, Netherlands.

Guinness adjudicators confirmed that Richters stands 7 feet, 1.9 inches tall, earning him a place in the record book.

Richters said he initially was hesitant to accept the title of world's tallest bodybuilder, since he primarily works as a fitness model and screen actor, but he agreed once Guinness created distinct categories for competitive and non-competitive bodybuilders.

Man credits $100,000 lottery win to a little voice inside his head

Nolan Steele, 78, of Sykesville, Md., said he was preparing to leave the High's store in Carroll County when a voice inside his head told him to turn around and buy a scratch-off lottery ticket.


"I don't know where it came from," Steele said of the voice, "but I am sure glad I listened to it."

Steele selected a $10 Willy Wonka Golden Ticket game, which earned him a $100,000 prize. He said some of the money would go toward having his house painted, and the rest would be up to his wife of 43 years to spend.

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