‘What should she do, New Zealand?’

That was the cliffhanger question.

It’s in the Bag was the most popular TV game show in the country. It featured in different towns every week, filmed in local town halls.

I remember John Hawkesby’s smooth hosting of it in the late 1980s as we tuned in after dinner.

The game involved three relatively easy questions. If all three questions were answered correctly, the contestant then had the chance to play for ‘money or the bag’.

They would first select one of 30 bags. Each contained a hidden prize. That could be as worthless as a clothes peg — or as valuable as a trip to Fiji.

Once a contestant was in play, Hawkesby would offer them a sum of money or the chance to accept the bag. He would increase his bid until the bag was opened, the contestant took the money, or Hawkesby would offer no more.

It was a very exciting show, since it came down to that age-old choice: take a risk and receive something marvellous, or take the certainty of money on the table.

The show was not intellectual, like Mastermind. But you didn’t have to suffer anyone singing or cooking. Moreover, it came down to the choice that separates those from succeed from those who maintain the status quo. And from those who hit the rocks.

It’s in the Bag was a show about opportunity cost. If you take the money, you miss out on the bag. The live audience, I recall, would mainly scream for the contestant to ‘take the bag!’

Of course, if contestants had taken the money, Hawkesby would then reveal the contents of the bag that they had missed out on. Sometimes it was a fair exchange: $100 as opposed to a set of pans. Equally, it could be cruel: $100 as opposed to a brand-new kitchen.

Well, it is a ‘money or the bag’ scenario that today’s investors face.

My bank offers 6.10% for a one-year term deposit. If you have some money to invest, that’s a simple option that may go somewhat toward recovering inflationary burn.

But what about ‘the bag’? What about the asymmetric option?

For that, you’d have to take on risk and jeopardy to see potential returns beyond.

There are also different levels of risk that can be considered.

Portfolio manager Christopher Mayer looked into hundreds of US-listed stocks that had become ‘100-baggers’ between 1962 and 2014.

Let me explain a 100-bagger. You invest $10,000. Over a period of time, that grows 100x to become $1 million.


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