Breaking the news to a Nobel prize winner

October 16, 2012

By Jonathan Alcorn

The call came in around 5:30 am from Reuters senior picture editor Hyungwon Kang, awakening me from a deep sleep after a long weekend of convering Space Shuttle Endeavour’s trip through the streets of Los Angeles for Reuters.

The instructions were to get to the home of Lloyd Shapley as soon as possible, the UCLA professor had been awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for economics and I needed to make a picture as soon as possible. I tried calling Mr Shapley, but it went straight to voicemail. It was still dark outside when I arrived, and an AP photographer pulled up about a minute later. We walked up the driveway and rang the doorbell.

After about a minute, an obviously fresh out of bed Mr Shapley opened the door. We both congratulated him and told him that he had just won the 2012 Nobel prize for economics!

Incredibly, it was apparent he had no idea about this and it took him a few seconds to process the information.

He’s 89, still half asleep and hard of hearing, so I showed him the message on my iPhone announcing that he had won the Nobel Prize. “I won the Nobel Prize” he said smiling as the reality sunk in. His hair was a wild mess, and we wanted to make dignified images of this brilliant man, so Reed lent him his comb before we started to make some photographs. But then, he was on the phone with a reporter for the next ten minutes or so happily chatting away, but it actually helped because when Shapley hung up the phone, the dawn light was hitting his porch so we could make some nice photos before I rushed to file the pictures as quickly as possible.

My adrenaline was flowing from this amazing experience, I had just broken the news to a genius that he won the Nobel Prize. Priceless.

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Great shot of Endeavour’s trip through the streets

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