Why Martin Jacobson Chose Animals Over Humanity After His $10m Win

0064 Martin Jacobson
Martin Jacobson

The poker life is a good life. The circus plonks its Big Top in some of the most diverse, delightful, and decadent locations in the world. But that doesn't mean poker players can't give back.

In 2014, Martin Jacobson won the $10,000 WSOP Main Event. His prize was $10 million. It was the largest prize in the tournament’s history.

If you watched that event you would have noticed that Jacobson was wearing a patch to promote Raising for Effective Giving (REG); a non-profit organization created by a group of poker players and effective altruists.

Jacobson joined REG a few weeks before the WSOP Main Event. The timing was perfect. He would later donate $250,000 of his winnings to the non-profit. There was one stipulation: The money would go towards the prevention of animal cruelty.

There are a billion people living on less than $1.25 per day. Why would Jacobson give his money to the animals?

It’s an interesting question, and one that you can find answers for in the life changing book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows by Melanie Joy.

“To me an animal life is as valuable as a human life, and it’s important that someone takes responsibility for them,” Jacobson told me when I questioned him on his bias.

In the U.S. 19,011 Animals Are Killed Per Minute

Martin Jacobson

Did you know that in the U.S. alone 10 billion land animals and 10 billion sea animals are killed on an annual basis in order to feed us?

That’s 19,011 animals killed per minute, or 317 animals per second. Think how many died as you read that sentence.

Figures from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate that an average meat eating American will devour 87 pounds of chicken, 17 pounds of turkey, 66 pounds of beef, 51 pounds of pig - and after throwing in a few chunks of veal and lamb - you have a grand total of 223 pounds of meat, per person, annually.

There are over 300 million people in the U.S. That’s a lot of meat.

Driving from California to Las Vegas for the WSOP, the effect that killing 20 billion animals annually has on our planet is there for everyone to see. Signs of doom scatter the California High Way.

“Save Our Water.”

“We are a Dustbowl.”

The Golden State is in the midst of a drought. Las Vegas fares even worse, with a visible bath ring around Lake Mead, the water source responsible for providing 90% of the water to the two million residents and visitors to Las Vegas.

1,847 Gallons of Water to Create a Pound of Beef

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Before you all head out into the streets stamping around and staring at the heavens - consider this.

Global agriculture is responsible for 92% of our water footprint and 30% of that is required to kill our fellow sentient beings.

When you buy a pound of chicken consider it took 518 gallons of water to create it, 1,847 gallons of water to create a pound of beef, 1,248 gallons for a pound of sheep, 718 gallons for pork, and 395 gallons for a pound of eggs.

And yet a lack of water is still the single biggest killer in the world.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), agriculture is responsible for 18% of the total release of greenhouse gases worldwide.

The production of methane from the animals is increasing the onset of global warming; we are destroying the trees that give us life, devastating our soil, and therefore the nutrients that our fruit and vegetables should contain and creating unknown environmental damages due to waste.

Organizations like REG, great books like Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows and high profile acts of support by people like Martin Jacobson help open our eyes to the problems that our own ignorance causes.

Everyone Can Make a Difference

Liv Boeree
Anyone can get involved with REG

So how can you help?

Start by joining REG. Donate a sum of your gross winnings to sentient beings that are less fortunate than you.

We are all designed to give. It creates happiness and freedom, and what else is there in life without those two crucial elements.

You can give what you can afford. I give 3% and am committed to an increase of 1% every year thereafter.

By following Martin Jacobson’s lead and making a difference your life will have greater meaning and purpose.

Playing poker can be a selfish pursuit. It can be a means to create wealth used for the search of happiness through materialistic means.

But if you speak to wealthy poker players they will tell you that money only takes them so far. At some point they hit a ceiling of happiness. To break through that barrier, they need to find something else to fill the void.

That something else can be effective altruism.

It’s time to follow the leaders.

It’s time to follow Martin Jacobson and REG.

It’s time to give poker meaning and purpose.

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