Economist finds out about Nobel win when neighbour knocks on the door

Receiving an unexpected knock on the front door in the early hours of the morning does not usually bring good news – but it is how one man found out he had won a Nobel Prize. 

Economist Paul Milgrom won the prize for economics alongside his colleague Robert Wilson for their work benefitting sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world.

But the prize’s organisers had been unable to reach Mr Milgrom, so Mr Wilson took it upon himself to let his colleague know about their win.

“You know, I was asleep and my phone is set not to take calls from unknown numbers,” Mr Milgrom said. “So, they never got through to me.

“But there came to be a knock at my door and my co-winner, Bob Wilson, who also lives across the street, came over and was knocking at my door and saying, ‘Paul, wake up! You’ve won the Nobel Prize!'”

Mr Milgrom stammered for a moment before saying: “Wow.”

Security footage at Mr Milgrom’s home captured the moment he found out in the early hours of the morning.

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Both men are based at Stanford University in the US and won for their auction formats which have been used to sell radio frequencies, fishing quotas and airport landing slots.

Mr Milgrom remained humble about his prize win, although his work has been used for good.

“This is economics. It’s not the Nobel Peace Prize or something, it’s not like I’ve gone out there and helped people settle a war,” he said.

Their win was announced in Stockholm by Goran Hansson, secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, rounding off a week of Nobel Prizes.

The committee said their work showed “why rational bidders tend to place bids below their own best estimate of the common value,” that is, “the value which is uncertain beforehand but, in the end, is the same for everyone”.

It also featured an explanation of how bidders try to avoid the so-called “winner’s curse” of overpaying.

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