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Big List: Weird gifts

WEIRD WORLD: The future king of England is not the only world leader who has found himself awash with weird gifts. Here are The Phuket News’ top five strangest presents that presidents, prime ministers and emperors have received in history.

By Jody Houton

Thursday 6 February 2014, 11:05AM

SITTING UNCOMFORTABLY Long before Walmart and fast-food chains, American residents foraged for their food and killed wild animals to eat – well, some did. Others, like professional hunter Seth Kinman, from California, presented President Abraham Lincoln with furniture fashioned from carcasses. His speciality for each president was, rather fittingly, a ‘savage chair’, complete with horns and perhaps a stuffed bear face thrown in for good measure. Seth then used to come and have his photograph taken with the probably terrified president, while he stood with a long rifle by his side.

HE BEANS WELL The former actor turned politician, Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans, more so than the average president. Some say he was obsessed by them. In fact, it was common knowledge that jelly beans were often served in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. It’s hard to say therefore whether old Ronnie was as freaked out as Lincoln must have been, when he was presented with a portrait of himself made from 10,000 jelly beans that apparently took six months to make. The answer lies with the fact that the piece still hangs in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

MAN’S BEST FRIEND Russian President Vladimir Putin is the king of the photo op; he’s been snapped shirtless riding horses, while doing judo and basically doing anything that could be construed as macho, so when he was presented with ‘Buffy’ the Bulgarian puppy, his mind must have gone into overdrive as to whether pics of him playing around could have come across as anything other than manly. He ended up accepting the gift from the then-prime minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov and the jovial ‘man’s best friend’ times began. Putin was later given a black Labrador from a Russian army general, an Akita puppy from Japanese officials, and a tiger. Oddly Putin gave the tiger away.

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DON’T PRESS THIS As a flimsy attempt at drawing a line under past tensions affecting Russian and American relations, former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton handed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a comically huge big red button, which read RESET in English and what was supposed to be the same in Russian. Unfortunately, instead of writing the correct word perezagruzka, the American language boffins mistakenly wrote peregruzka, which instead means ‘overloaded’. Cold war not over?

TWICE THE PRICE If a president of the United States receives any gift worth less that US$350, then the rules are that he or she can keep it, otherwise it becomes a gift to the American people. Here’s a brief list of things current president Barack Obama has received since his time in office: crocodile insurance from Australia, 50 pairs of David Beckham-branded H&M underwear, a pair of headphones from rapper Ludacris, and – always one to enjoy a paddle – a ping pong table from British Prime Minister, David Cameron.


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