by Robert Ferringo - 05/13/2006
There is no honor among thieves.
Keep that in mind when you watch the final episode of Survivor Panama: Exile Island at 8 p.m. this Sunday on CBS. It is one of the guiding principles and underlying themes in the reality show, which pits 20 greedy, house-broken strangers against one another in a cutthroat test of physical and mental stamina. The winner receives $1 million.
But that maxim doesn't simply hold for the final four contestants that are left vying for the title of "Sole Survivor". It can also be applied to the betting scandal that forced Bodog.com, and consequently all sportsbooks, to suspend betting on the popular television program just over a month ago.
On April 11, Bodog.com issued a press release claiming that it had received an anonymous tip from a "concerned citizen" stating that he knew who the winner of Survivor Panama was. Since the show is recorded several months before it airs on the network, it was a plausible scenario. The informant also told the Costa Rica-based sportsbook that he knew of an entire gambling ring that was privy to the information. He said the bettors had been wagering heavily and that they were poised to reap a windfall profit.
That "concerned citizen" turned out to be Michael Osborne, a college student in Florida and Upstate New York native. Bodog.com did not reveal the name of its source, but Osborne has willingly come forward as "the mole" and was all too eager to tell the tale of how he torpedoed the whole scam.
"I just wanted to blow the whole thing up," Osborne said. "And I wanted them to know that it was me that did it."
Allegedly, Osborne met Danielle DiLorenzo, one of the contestants on Survivor, at an upscale nightclub in South Beach a few months ago. Osborne didn't recognize DiLorenzo from the show, but was enchanted by the striking beauty of the 24-year-old medical sales representative. The two struck up a conversation and Osborne ended up hanging out with her and a group of her friends for the evening, according to Osborne.
Over a few magnums of Cristal, the guys in DiLorenzo's entourage took a liking to Osborne. He had no idea who these apparent high-rollers were or what he had gotten himself into, but in the way of conversation one of the men apparently admitted to Osborne that DiLorenzo was "on a TV show". Later that night it came out that the TV show was Survivor and that she wasn't just on it, but was the winner.
According to Osborne he was skeptical at first. But the man convinced him that he had just returned from a trip to Las Vegas in which he had "hammered every book he could find" and that he was set to make a killing off his inside information. At the time of the wagers, the odds on DiLorenzo were posted at 7-to-1.
Osborne claims that he and DiLorenzo exchanged numbers, and that they have kept in contact over the past few months. In the meantime, Osborne saw a golden opportunity to cash in on her success and was certain to act on it. But as a broke college student he really didn't have the funds to make any substantial play on the line. Instead he contacted a "family friend" back in Albany and was able to convince him that the tip was legit and that they were standing to make the easiest money of their lives.
According to Osborne, the man then informed nearly 40 people of the scenario. Osborne alleges that combined the group wagered roughly $28,000 on DiLorenzo at the 7-to-1 posting. Osborne also believed, but couldn't confirm, that his man in Albany may have made a trip out to Vegas to spread his action around on multiple unsuspecting and exposed books.
But like so many classic heists, the Foolproof Plan unraveled because of a simple disagreement. Osborne thought that he had been more than gracious in sharing his inside dirt with his friend. He said he was looking for a little something in return and had asked the man for a $2,000 payoff up front. He claims that he went back-and-forth with his newfound benefactor over the payment, and that things were looking shady.
"I just figured I'd get a piece of the action, you know," Osborne said. "He was kind of jerking me around for awhile, so I told him that if he didn't wire me $2,000 the next day that I was going to blow the whole fucking thing out of the water."
You can guess what happened next.
Osborne decided that if the man didn't want to pay - he would make him pay. He said that the following afternoon he placed a call to Bodog's customer service claiming that he know something was up. He spoke with authorities at Bodog and unveiled the entire plot.
In a press release in early April, Bodog stated that its suspicions were raised when it noticed a large number of maximum wagers placed, all from the same area, on DiLorenzo. The maximum wager allowed at one time is $100, a standard figure for such prop bets. Osborne believes that the Bodog representatives were convinced that he was telling the truth because he knew not only how much was wagered, but where the bets had come from.
His confession was the nail in the coffin, and Bodog pulled the lines.
"Our entertainment bookmakers were quick to react and investigate this incident, and although we can't substantiate the claim of the person who called, the lines have been taken down as a precaution," said Calvin Ayre, Founder and CEO of Bodog, in the April release.
Osborne was quick - and strikingly honest - in his admission that his confession to Bodog was neither an attack of conscience nor the resolution to some moral dilemma. When asked if he would have gone to the books and turned everyone in if his man in Albany had simply paid him his bounty, he very straightforwardly said, "No, I wouldn't have."
Osborne said that he does not worry about repercussions for his actions. This was probably his boldest statement and seemed like a rather cavalier attitude for someone who may have cost certain bettors well over a quarter of a million dollars (not to mention the other millions that may have been affected). He said that his man in Albany called and threatened his life soon after Bodog announced that a tipster had come forward, but Osborne also said that he wasn't concerned.
Bodog is yet to announce what it plans to do with the wagers that had been placed on the event.
It's worth noting that while the show is pre-recorded, the winner isn't announced until the live season finale. It is doubtful that the television network would reveal the winner - even to those on the island - before then for fear of the info leaking out, so it's possible that DiLorenzo miscalculated and isn't actually the winner. If so, this could end up being a very costly drunken misunderstanding.
DiLorenzo is currently one of four people still in the running for the title. Cirie Fields, a 35-year old nurse from South Carolina, Terry Deitz, a 46-year-old airline pilot from Connecticut, and Aras Baskauskas, a 24-year old yoga instructor are also in play. On Sunday the field will be whittled down to the Final Two. After that, the tribal council will vote on who it believes should take home the $1 million and their selection will be announced in front of a live studio audience.
Doc's is unaware of any Las Vegas sportsbooks that offer action on reality television shows.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.