As the show tried to trick its contestants by leveraging the 'prisoner dilemma,' this man cracked the code successfully and won.
Gameshows can often be about mind games pitting contestants against each other and the audience always gets excited to see who outwits their opponents best. An excellent example of playing mind games to win was the British game show "Golden Balls" which had the contestants try to game each other by making them pick a "split" or "steal" ball. They would get time to convince the other to split the money. If one of them chose to steal while the other split, only the person choosing "steal" would get the money but if under any circumstance they were both to choose "steal", neither would get the money. The genius of one contestant still amazes the internet more than a decade after he pulled off the trick. Nick left the world awestruck with his manipulation skills that won him several thousand dollars.
The Golden Balls game show, hosted by Jasper Carrott had a final segment, "Split or Steal" that required the two participants to trust each other. Following the game theory of "prisoner dilemma" the rules were set such that if both contestants picked the "split" ball they each got 50% of the prize money and if both picked "steal" they left the show with nothing. If one contestant picked "split" and the other picked "steal," the one who chose "steal" would win the jackpot and take home the entire amount that they won from the previous rounds. The show allowed the contestants to interact and negotiate before choosing the ball and that is when the manipulation happened.
In one of the episodes, two contestants Nick and Ibrahim entered the "Split or Steal" round having won 13,600 pounds from the previous rounds. Just as Carrott pointed out, the real golden question was if they were going to keep it or lose it. So, when the duo were allowed to discuss before deciding, Nick said, "Ibrahim, I want you to trust me. 100% I'm going to pick the 'steal' ball. I want you to pick 'split' and I promise you that I will split the money with you." Ibrahim was in disbelief for a few moments and wasn't reassured if that was Nick's final plan. When Ibrahim suggested that they both pick "split," Nick refused to do so and stuck to his decision.
After Nick insisted that he would split the money with Ibrahim after the show, the latter agreed but not before making his point saying, "My father once said to me, 'A man who doesn't keep his word is not a man. He's not worth the dollar.'" After hearing this, Nick said he would pick "steal" and even Carrott gave them a warning to better choose "split" so that they both walk out with something. Ibrahim called his opponent an "idiot" for putting him in such a critical position but Nick was brewing a masterplan in his mind.
When the time for choosing the ball arrived, Ibrahim gave in and said that he would go with Nick's plan and choose "split." The two contestants revealed the golden balls that they've chosen and to everyone's surprise, both of them chose "split." The crowd was in awe as to how Nick manipulated his opponent to ensure that he chose "split" so that they both could share the money. Nick was also careful not to trust Ibrahim when he said that they could both choose "split" because the latter might change his options and steal the money.
Even after a decade this video floors the viewers and has gained over 13M views. People were impressed by how Nick tricked not only his opponent but also the game creators all while ensuring that they both got the prize money. "It's easier to convince somebody that you're a bad person than it is to convince you're a good person so what that guy did was the best and most genius way to ensure that they split the money," commented @CaptnCosmic. "If he gave any inclination to his opponent that he would choose split then the opponent might choose to steal. This was the best way to do this," wrote @JudeFurr.