The high point of Cochrane's career at the World began on November 14, 1889, when she sailed from New York to beat the record of Phileas Fogg, hero of Jules Verne's romance Around the World in Eighty Days.
The World built up the story by running daily articles and a guessing contest in which whoever came nearest to naming Cochrane's time in circling the globe would get a trip to Europe. There were nearly one million entries in the contest. Cochrane rode on ships and trains, in rickshas and sampans, on horses and burros.
On the final lap of her journey, the World transported her from San Francisco to New York by special train; she was greeted everywhere by brass bands, fireworks, and like panoply. Her time was 72 days 6 hours 11 minutes 14 seconds. The stunt made her famous.
Nellie Bly's Book: Around the World in Seventy-two Days (1890) was a great popular success, and the name Nellie Bly became a synonym for a female star reporter.