Asa Candler made one of the coolest bets in history. Plopping $2,300 on Coca-Cola, he turned the soda company into an ice-cold money machine.

Today the beverage empire sports a market cap of $182 billion.

Asa Candler 300
Asa Candler
When Candler began purchasing control of Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) from the sweet beverage's inventor, John Pemberton, in 1887, "it was a fledgling 5-cent soda fountain drink that only sold about nine glasses a day in its first year on the market," according to Inc. magazine. 

By 1891, Candler had full control of the Coca-Cola product and a year later he incorporated the Atlanta business with a capital stock of $100,000.

When he sold the company in 1919, it was worth $25 million, or $342 million in today's money.

The enterprise he built eventually had a stock surge in the 1988-98 decade of almost 2,000%.