Greatest Super Bowl Betting Moments
We all have our stories - for good or ill - involving gambling and the Super Bowl. Win or lose, it's a right of passage for players across the country to wager on The Big Game.
But have you ever found yourself wondering who won or lost the Super Bowl's largest bets? Has the title game ever been under suspicion of a fix? Or what about if anyone ever correctly predicted both the Super Bowl and World Series winners, before either season had started, in the same year?
Here are some of the greatest Super Bowl betting moments:
1. The largest bet in Super Bowl history, according to various sources, was a $7.6 million Super Bowl moneyline bet on the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36. The Rams were 14-point favorites in the game but lost to the Patriots 20-17 in a game that would serve as the first chapter in New England's dynasty.
The largest winning Super Bowl bet came in Super Bowl 52, when an anonymous gambler dropped $3 million on the Eagles at an MGM property. This bettor actually cleared more than $10 million in winning wagers when Philadelphia took out New England, 41-33.
However, when adjusted for inflation, the second-largest bet in Super Bowl history actually came in on the 49ers in Super Bowl 29. San Francisco was an 18.5-point favorite over San Diego and a bettor dropped $2.4 million on the 49ers on the moneyline. That $2.4 million is equal to nearly $4 million in today's dollars.
However, that $2.4 mil paid at just 1-to-8. Meaning all of that risk only paid off for $300,000 (nearly $500,000 in today's dollars).
Of course, those are only the largest bets on record for the Super Bowl. I'm sure there is some Eastern European arms dealer out there, trading in nuclear warheads and baby's kidneys, who drops $10 million each year on the coin flip. He's probably the mayor of some small town in Siberia, and for the townspeople it's their version of Groundhog's Day - if he wins the heat gets to stay on. If he loses there are weekly pogroms until spring.
2. Besides some wild-eyed conspiracy theories, there's never been anything in the history of the Super Bowl that would suggest that The Game had been fixed. However, just prior to Super Bowl IV reports linked Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson to notorious Detroit gambler "Dice" Dawson (no relation). It was a major scandal and there was an uproar that the game was not on the level.
"Dice" had been arrested two weeks prior and authorities found Len's phone number on a piece of paper. As a result, Len, along with several other NFL players, were summoned to testify in Detroit for a federal investigation into sports gambling before the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs were 12-point underdogs against Minnesota. But Dawson quashed any rumors by guiding his squad to a 26-7 win, one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, and snagging the MVP trophy along the way.
3. You remember back when Phil Mickelson "couldn't win the big one"? Well in 2001, three years before he donned the Green Jacket, Lefty won the Big One. Twice.
Before the 2000-01 season, Mickelson reportedly dropped $20,000 on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl at 28-to-1 odds. Sure enough, behind a defense loaded with murderous madmen, Baltimore hammered the Giants 34-7 and Lefty cashed in for $560,000.
Just a few months later Mickelson dropped another $20,000 on the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the World Series at 38-to-1 odds. Sure enough, behind the arms of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, Arizona won a dramatic seven-game series over the New York Yankees. Lefty took that to the bank for another $760,000.
Later it came out that Mickelson was just a partial investor in each the bets, and that he brought home only about one-tenth of the actual earnings. Regardless, that's still one hell of a year.
4. The worst Super Bowl, in terms of amount lost by the public to the sportsbooks, occurred in 2014. In Super Bowl 48 the Seahawks hammered the Broncos 43-8 as slim two-point underdogs. Over 70 percent of the wagers in that game came in on the sentimental favorite, Peyton Manning. Also, the 'over' took the overwhelming majority of the action in that game, with the total posted anywhere from 47.0 to 50.0.
Further, the books cleaned up on prop wagers thanks in part to a pair of flukes. First, the opening score of the game was a safety (on the first play of the game!). Second, the MVP award went to a defensive player, linebacker Malcolm Smith.
When the dust settled the Las Vegas sportsbooks had cleared nearly $20 million in profit from one of the most lopsided championship games of this century.
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