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Chinese Taylor Swift fans hoping to hedge their heartbreak by insuring against the downturns in the pop star’s love life are now out of luck.
Taobao, China’s largest online marketplace, has cracked down on vendors who were offering “insurance policies” on Swift’s reported relationship with British actor Tom Hiddleston.
The Hiddleswift plan offered double your money if the couple split up. According to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, Taobao vendors had begun taking bets on the pop star’s romantic fortunes last week, with the minimum wager set at 1 yuan ($.15).
“If I bought a million, I would make a lot — these stars break up all the time which gives us the opportunity to earn a lot of money!” said one policy purchaser named Xiaoting, according to Xinhua. He may have had a point: a cursory survey reveals the average length of Swift’s recent relationships — spanning past partners Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Harry Styles and a couple others — was about two and half months. (Calvin Harris, who dated Swift for over a year, was a statistical outlier.) One seller said he had logged over 543 transactions.
But as of Wednesday, Taobao blocked Hiddleswift insurance offerings. Searches were met with the following message: “According to laws and regulations, what you have searched for cannot be displayed.” Similar offers that allowed users to place bets on whether Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom will stay together, or whether it will be President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton after the U.S. elections in November, have also been removed.
To all outside appearances, the schemes were not selling insurance — which is legal in China — but rather offered users an opportunity to gamble by another name. Gambling, aside from two state sanctioned lotteries, is officially illegal in mainland China.
When asked for comment, Alibaba Group, which owns and operates Taobao, tells THR that it believes the breakup insurance was being used by sellers as a marketing tool to attract traffic. “As it is not strictly an insurance product, the sellers are not qualified as insurance sellers,” the company says. “So we have taken down such ‘products’ from the Taobao platform.”
A few of the more creative insurance schemes appear to have slipped through the cracks though. Still available is a policy on whether season 4 of the British-American crime show Sherlock, which has a huge following in China, will air on schedule later this year. Concerned fans can also insure themselves against the risk that Patrick Stewart might suddenly grow hair for the next installment of the X-Men franchise. As of Wednesday afternoon in China, two buyers had taken out policies hedging against an end to Stewart’s baldness.
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