The Astonishing World of Pigeon Racing: Meet Armando, the $1.4 Million Pigeon

![Armando Pigeon](×750/filters:no_upscale()/

Pigeons, The Treasured Companions

While some people do their best to fend off pigeons, others have grown to cherish these charismatic creatures. Surprisingly, in China, the humble rock pigeon has captured the hearts of many. These are the same pigeons we often see perched on statues, indulging in street food, or leaving their mark on parked cars. And as the old saying goes, “one person’s trash is another’s treasure.” This sentiment rang true when a bird enthusiast recently splurged a staggering $1.4 million to acquire Armando, a remarkable pigeon hailing from Belgium.

Armando: The Unparalleled Racing Wonder

Armando is no ordinary bird. According to Pipa, a prominent hub for pigeon racing information, he holds the world record as the greatest long-distance pigeon of all time. Joel Verschoot, a Belgian breeder, auctioned off 178 pigeons, including the legendary Armando, and amassed a total of $2.5 million. Notably, Contador, another prized pigeon, fetched an impressive $225,000, while seven of Armando’s offspring sold for an average of $24,000 each.

Before Armando burst onto the scene, the most expensive pigeon ever sold was Nadine, which went for $450,000 to a Chinese buyer in 2017. To put things in perspective, a good racing pigeon generally costs around $2,800.

A Whirlwind Auction

Nikolaas Gyselbrecht, the CEO of Pipa, expressed his astonishment at the unprecedented auction. He describes the surreal experience as “something out of this world.” Initially, they had hoped for a final bid between €400,000 and €500,000 ($450,000 to $550,000). But the bidding went far beyond their wildest dreams. In the end, Armando commanded an astounding price of $1.4 million.

The Rise of Pigeon Racing in China

Why are Chinese buyers investing vast sums in pigeons? Pigeon racing has soared in popularity among the upper and middle classes in parts of China. In Beijing alone, there are approximately 90,000 registered pigeon breeders associated with the Racing Pigeons Association. Prizes for these races often reach the tens of thousands of dollars.

Jiangming Liu, a Pipa employee in China, explains that as the only sport people can legally gamble on in mainland China, pigeon racing has experienced a surge in popularity. Its inclusive nature attracts a diverse range of participants, regardless of age or physical ability. “Everyone can do it,” says Liu. “From regular people to some rich people. Regular people buy cheap pigeons. Rich people buy expensive pigeons.”

The Art and Science of Pigeon Racing

Pigeon racing capitalizes on these birds’ innate homing instincts, which have made them reliable carrier pigeons for centuries. In the 1800s, pigeon breeders began organizing races, releasing the birds from distant locations and timing their return to the roost. Over time, the sport has evolved into a sophisticated pursuit, with pigeons like Armando being meticulously bred for speed and navigational prowess.

As Armando, now a retired racing legend in his fifth year, embarks on his journey to China, he won’t be setting any more records. However, Gyselbrecht believes that Armando’s lively days are far from over, as pigeons can sire offspring until around age 10 and live up to 20 years. With some luck, Armando might just offset his hefty price tag through his valuable contributions to pigeon breeding.

In the captivating world of pigeon racing, Armando has secured his place as a living legend, captivating enthusiasts and inspiring a remarkable auction that will be remembered for years to come.