Though league commissioners and sports purists may be loath to admit, the reality is that gambling and sports do go hand in hand. At a day and age where sportsbooks and casinos are more accessible than ever, it has almost become impossible to separate the sport from the wagers that are placed on the games. It may be amazing to some that people still bet so much on games when the very system they are putting their money into is setup to minimize their winnings or even just take their money away altogether, but the allure is not in managing to take home the little winnings that come from the safe bets. No, for the people who truly love to gamble on sports, what thrills them most is turning a small wager into a monstrous profit simply because they looked at the long odds and ventured to take a chance on them. These are the bets that go down in gambling lore as some of the greatest in history.
The Miracle Cards and Their Run to the 2011 World Series
Back in September of 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves five games back of the Atlanta Braves for the last postseason spot. As late as it was in the season, it seemed a fair bet to assume that the Cardinals were going home for October and spending the offseason without a title, but that assumption clearly did not manifest itself in the eyes of one person. At that point in time, an anonymous fan wagered $250 on the Cardinals making the World Series, and then an additional $250 more that the team would win the whole thing.
The odds on the two bets respectively were 500 to 1 and 999 to 1. It was already highly unlikely that he would hit on the first wager, let alone the second, but fate intervened. The Cardinals completed an improbable comeback by September’s end, and through even more improbable fashion, the team came back from the brink of losing the World Series on several different occasions in Game 6 before coming up with hit after lucky hit until they eventually won the game and then the championship a day later. By the end, the original $500 bet had turned into $375,000 for the faithful fan.
Safety in Thousands
In one of the more unusual wagers that wounded up winning, a bet was made that the first score in Super Bowl XLVI would be of all things, a safety. The bet was made by a man named Jonah Rechnitz, and he put down $1000 on 50 to 1 odds that his prediction would come to pass. The safety did indeed occur as the first score, and in the process, betting history was made.
A Bet on Greatness
Roger Federer is now universally known as one of the greatest tennis players to have ever set foot between the lines. He has numerous major championships to his name, and will surely go down in history as one of the best, and he may even stake a claim to the top spot before it’s all said done. Prior to him ascending to his spot among the tennis immortals however, Federer was still once just a young Swiss native who had dreams of becoming a sports star just as many young boys did, but there was obviously something special in him, because one man made the wager that he would eventually become a legend in the sporting world.
Nick Newlife, an Oxfordshire resident, watched Federer claim his first Wimbledon title back in 2003, and for reasons known only to him that was enough proof to believe that the Swiss player was well on his way to bigger and better things. Going on what could only be possibly termed as one of the greatest gut calls in gambling history or perhaps a moment of prescient thinking that rivals that of oracles, Newlife placed a hefty wager on Federer turning into a superstar. The exact wager was 1,520 pounds placed at 66 to 1 odds that Roger Federer would win at least seven championships by the year 2019. Newlife made the wager at the All England Club. Needless to say, the wager proved to be incredibly profitable, but Newlife was not around to receive the money.
By 2009, Federer had won an additional six championships but Newlife died on that same year. His wager would not go unclaimed however, as the ticket was sent to the charitable organization Oxfam. Three years later, Newlife’s wager finally came to fruition as Federer claimed his seventh championship after defeating Andy Murray at Wimbledon. According to the charity, proceeds from the wager had amounted to 101,840 pounds. Not a bad bet at all for the departed Mr. Newlife.
Lefty’s Winning Wagers
Though known primarily as a golfer, Phil Mickelson may have a second career available to him if he ever chose to take on gambling full time. Prior to the start of the 2000 NFL season, Mickelson and some of his friends placed a bet on the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl. To put the bet into context, the odds were at 22 to 1, or in other words, the Ravens were a longshot at best to win the title. Despite the many pitfalls that can derail that kind of bet however, Mickelson and his group were paid off, because by the end of that season, the Baltimore Ravens were hoisting the trophy. The $20,000 bet they made at the start of the season had turned into $560,000. That’s more than a half million dollars in profit for those keeping score.
Long shots are rarely ever going to pan out, but if fortune favors the bold, then the people above surely are examples of that. It just goes to show that for all the things that people can try to do in the hopes of getting rich, luck will always play a role.