Everyone dreams of striking it rich through a stroke of sports-betting luck or a lucky lottery ticket. Although it doesn’t happen often, a fortunate few have made that dream a reality. Learn about six of them right here.
Let’s be honest — most people who get interested in sports betting do it because they want to win big. While smart bettors know to pace themselves and work within the confines of their personal bankrolls, some people just want to live on the edge, and occasionally that attitude pays off big-time.
With sports betting encompassing all types of sports, from horse racing and cricket to basketball and soccer, the opportunities for some wild wins continue to expand. And maybe, just maybe, you can be as lucky as these folks who’ve made history with their record-setting profits. Here, we’ll take a look at six standout bets that netted huge winnings.
Mike Futter: 2003 Grand National
Bingo hall owner Mike Futter also runs the Dee Racing Syndicate, which is a group of horse owners out of Northern Ireland. Futter decided to bet £800,000 on his own horse, Monty’s Pass, to win the prestigious Grand National in 2003. Two weeks before the handicaps were even revealed, Futter placed his bets at various bookmakers at a variety of odds. His largest bet was £10,000 at 50/1 odds.
Forty horses began the steeplechase, but the course’s grueling nature meant that only 14 eventually crossed the finish line. Jockey Barry Geraghty kept the 10-year-old horse near the front for most of the race, and he ended up with a decisive win.
Futter took home not only his winning wagers (over £1 million), but he also took a portion of the winner’s purse for being the horse’s owner (another £260,940).
Charles Barkley: 2002 Super Bowl
Charles Barkley became a household name in the 1980s-1990s for being a powerhouse basketball player. He was an 11-time NBA All-Star and even played for the USA Olympic team in 1992 and 1996. He eventually transferred his talents to working off the court, where he serves as an NBA analyst.
In the 2000s, Barkley became more open about his compulsive gambling habit. While he’s very candid about his large losses, he has also won on occasion. One of his biggest wins was in 2002 when he placed $500,000 on the New England Patriots. That year, the Pats were the 14-point underdogs, and their win scored Barkley an $800,000 payout.
Phil Mickelson: 2001 Super Bowl
Phil Mickelson is another person whose athletic prowess is now just as famous as his gambling habit. As a golfer, Mickelson is known for taking risky, difficult shots, so of course he’d bring that risk-taking into another area of his life.
Before the 2000-01 NFL season, Mickelson placed a futures bet on the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl. The team was at 22/1 odds, so it was definitely a long shot. But, when the Ravens went all the way to the big game and beat the New York Giants, he took home $560,000 in profits.
Vegas Dave: 2015 World Series and UFC 193
The year 2015 ended up being a big one for Las Vegas bettor and gambling influencer Dave Oancea, who goes by the nickname “Vegas Dave.” In April of that year, Oancea made waves by placing a $100,000 futures bet on the Kansas City Royals, who were at 30/1 odds. While the Royals had made it to the World Series in 2014, they were ranked last for the 2015 season. Oancea placed bets at multiple casinos, and his belief in the team paid off to the tune of $2.5 million.
In November that same year, UFC 193 had Holly Holm challenging the undefeated Ronda Rousey in the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship bout. Holm was the underdog at 11/1 odds, but Oancea placed a $20,000 wager on her to win. Holm managed to beat Rousey in the second round, earning Vegas Dave a sweet $200,000 in profits.
James Adducci: 2019 Masters
For quite a long while, Tiger Woods was the most accomplished golfer in history. But he has also had some slumps, and he certainly wasn’t favored to win the Masters Tournament in 2019. Bettor James Adducci was facing 14/1 odds, but he still put down $85,000 on Woods. When Woods won the tournament with -13 strokes, Adducci got to take home about $1.2 million.
The most amusing part? Adducci says that this was his first-ever sports wager.
Billy Walters: 2010 Super Bowl
Entrepreneur Billy Walters became famous in sports-betting circles once he’d joined the Computer Group, which used computers to analyze sports outcomes. Walters ended up with a 30-year winning streak, betting on basketball and pro and college football.
In 2010, the New Orleans Saints were the underdog against the Indianapolis Colts going into Super Bowl XLIV, with this being their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. The Saints beat the odds, and Walters’ bet on the team earned him a whopping $3.5 million in return.
Fred Craggs: A 2008 Horse-Racing Accumulator Bet
In 2008, a Yorkshire-based fertilizer salesman decided to celebrate his 60th birthday by placing a small wager on some horse races — the amount was only 50 pence, actually. He chose an eight-horse accumulator bet that included a selection of races around the globe. The odds for his accumulator were at 2 million to one.
He apparently didn’t know how well he’d done when he went into the William Hill betting agency to see how he’d fared. When he was told that he’d won £1 million, he apparently turned very pale and said that he’d better go home to tell his wife.
More Record-Breakers in the Future
As more sports themselves open up to official betting, even more possibilities for record-making wagers become possible. Who knows? Maybe the next major sports-betting upset will happen during a championship round of e-sports.
Perhaps you’ll make a list like this one day with your unbelievable sports wager. Just remember to bet responsibly and always stay within your bankroll.