Famous Super Bowl Bets
by Darin Zank - 1/27/2011
About $83 million was bet on the Super Bowl last year in Las Vegas, and who knows how much more when including the world of Internet sportsbooks and local bookies. And while most folks aren't shy about sharing who they've backed, larger bettors would prefer to keep their activities quiet. Word can get out, but word also isn't always reliable.
The Super Bowl not only brings bettors out of the woodwork, it tends to attract the largest and, for lack of a better word, craziest bets. Few is the time someone puts a million dollars on a regular season football game, or even a playoff game. But the Super Bowl is different; it’s the biggest -- or should we say most-hyped -- American sporting event of the year, and the last meaningful football game of the season. And as everybody knows, football is king when it comes to sports betting. So everybody and his brother seemingly wants to make one more significant bet before the season comes to an end.
One of the first famous Super Bowl bets to garner big-time attention involved Las Vegas shaker-upper Bob Stupak and the cool mil he put down on the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. Stupak was catching seven points with Cincy, and almost had the outright winner, as it took until the last minute for Joe Montana and the Niners to beat the Bengals, 20-16. Word is, though, the bet might have been a stunt, and that Stupak hedged his action, quietly backing San Francisco for a smaller amount.
Basketballer Charles Barkley has been known to throw some money down here and there, and he made a splash and some cash (and supposedly cost somebody his job) when he won over a quarter-million on the New England Patriots when they beat the St. Louis Rams back in Super Bowl 33. Barkley reportedly backed the Patriots both as 14-point underdogs and on the moneyline. The Las Vegas Review-Journal later reported Barkley was given his betting slips without a proper line of credit, and that the casino wanted to void the wagers. But Barkley collected, and the sportsbook director got canned.
Reports out of Vegas last year told of poker star Phil Ivey getting down for seven figures on a moneyline bet on the Indianapolis Colts. Ivey may have thought he had a winner, but the Saints hit a couple of cards near the end and burned the former WPT champion.
Vegas-based sports gambler Billy Walters was supposedly in on some big action with Ivey last year. But Walters told “60 Minutes” he bet $3.5 million on the Saints. Walters said his group's line had New Orleans favored by a point, while sportsbooks had Indy favored by anywhere from 4.5 to six points. Walters also said he had bet on the Saints to win both the NFC and the Super Bowl on futures boards, although he didn't mention other teams he may also have backed.
So maybe Walters was trying to push the line one way (he's one of those people who can do that), and reversed his bet after the line moved. Can you imagine putting out seven figures, just to set yourself up for another bet the other way?
Then there's my buddy Dan, who I think is only a little crazy, mainly because he's a Bears fan, who plopped down a couple of C-notes on Devin Hester to score the first touchdown of the game five years ago vs. the Colts at odds of 20/1. How high was Dan jumping as Hester returned the opening kickoff for a score? Higher than most other 5-9, 210-pounders can without totally dumping their 16-ounce cup of beer. And while his beloved Bears eventually lost that game, Dan didn't seem overly crushed, and the rounds of drinks he bought were much appreciated.
Thanks to Peter Childs for his help with this article.
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