Everyone dreams of becoming rich overnight with the greatest of ease, it’s only natural. As a current resident of Las Vegas, I get to see people come from across the world on a daily basis hoping of striking it rich. Some hit the slot machines, some hit the tables, but the most interesting bets are always placed in the sportsbook.
It’s there that you can either take or give points, and even bet the moneyline if you feel confident that one team will prevail overall. Futures bets are also a hot commodity, as preseason odds to win divisions, conferences and more are all up for stake.
With the Super Bowl approaching, we are coming up on the biggest day of the year in terms of gambling at Vegas sportsbooks. No matter who wins, all of the teams are certain to not be big enough longshots to make you rich with a minor bet. However, there have been plenty of longshots that pulled through to make people rich, and here are 15 bets that could have made you rich.
15 Auburn wins 2010 BCS Championship
There were quite a few people coming into the 2010 season with curiosity as to what Cam Newton could do as the Auburn quarterback. However, that curiosity didn’t have many people thinking championship in his one season on the squad under Gene Chizik. At 40 to 1, Auburn was a bit of a longshot to win the BCS Championship, but they did just that as they breezed through much of their schedule and ended an undefeated season against Oregon.
14 Buster Douglas defeats Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson stormed back from a short hiatus to take on Buster Douglas at the Tokyo Dome on February 10th, 1990. Tyson walked into the fight with a perfect record of 37-0 and all of the money in Vegas was on Tyson, as people thought it was easy cash. Douglas, a 42 to 1 underdog, seemingly had no chance, but was able to score the biggest upset in boxing history. Douglas shocked the world in the 10th round by knocking out Tyson to win the Heavyweight Championship.
13 Safety First Score of Super Bowl XLVI
Each year, the Super Bowl brings around some of the craziest prop bets that range from the length of the national anthem to the coin flip and what song the halftime performer will belt out first. One of those bets is how the first points of the game will be scored. When the Giants took on the Patriots at Super Bowl XLVI, there was a 50 to 1 (75 to 1 in some places) line that had the first points coming via a safety. Surprisingly enough, the first score was a safety to put the Giants up 2-0. One man at the MGM Grand took the bet, and cashed in his $1,000 ticket for $50,000.
12 Donerail wins 1913 Kentucky Derby
You would have needed a time machine if you wanted to cash in big on the 1913 Kentucky Derby, but it featured the biggest upset in horse racing. Jockey Roscoe Goose and trainer/owner T.P. Hayes came into the race with their horse, Donerail, sitting at 91 to 1 odds. After the lead was swapped between several horses, it was Donerail that took the lead at the end to defeat Ten Point by half of a length, cementing his status as the most surprising horse to take the Kentucky Derby.
11 New York Mets win 1969 World Series
Coming into the 1969 MLB season, the New York Mets had never finished with a winning record in their franchise’s history. It looked like the Mets were well on their way to another season without reach the postseason as they were 9.5 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the middle of August. It has been said that some casinos were offering 1,000 to 1 odds at that point on the Mets to win the World Series, but most stories say it was 100 to 1. The Mets would surge by the Cubs the rest of the season and defeated the Baltimore Orioles in the Fall Classic.
10 Stanford beats USC in 2007
Vegas casinos usually have a system when it comes to how many points translate to dollars if you take the moneyline on the underdog. You can talk your way into a moneyline if a spread is massive enough, and some people reported that they were getting 100 to 1 odds on Stanford to defeat USC in 2007...even though they were a 41 point underdog. Stanford trailed by nine in the fourth quarter, but scored 10 late points to pull off the massive upset, earning some people a big payday.
9 New York Jets win Super Bowl III
The largest point spread in Super Bowl history came in Super Bowl XXIX when the San Francisco 49ers were favored by 18.5 over the San Diego Chargers. The second largest came in Super Bowl III, when the Baltimore Colts were 18 point favorites over the AFL’s New York Jets. Back then, casinos were willing to give 110 to 1 odds on the New York Jets moneyline heading into the game, and the Jets pulled off the upset, winning 16-7. Some say the game was fixed so that the Colts owner could get those huge odds, but it was never proven.
8 Red Sox win 2004 World Series After Being Down 3-0
After sweeping the Anaheim Angels in the 2004 American League Division Series, the Boston Red Sox were one of the favorites to win the World Series with four teams left. That was, until, the New York Yankees took a 3-0 series lead on them in the ALCS. When that happened, the odds of the Red Sox winning the entire postseason were astronomical at 120 to 1. Some took the bet, and the Red Sox stormed back to win the ALCS and then swept the Cardinals in the World Series.
7 Tampa Bay wins American League Pennant in 2008
In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays were playing their first season after dropping “Devil” from their team name, and it was a magical one. The Rays wound up reaching the World Series, and even though they ended up dropping the series in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies, there were still a lot of people that made money from them. That’s because heading into the season, the Rays were given no chance of even making it to the Fall Classic as they were given 125 to 1 odds to win the ALCS.
6 Y.E. Yang wins 2009 PGA Championship
Back in 2009, Tiger Woods was still considered to be the best player in the world, and won the PGA Tour Player of the Year that season. Heading into the final round of the 2009 PGA Championship, Woods had a two stroke lead on the field, and at that point, he simply didn’t lose after leading for 54 holes. Coming into the tournament, South Korean Y.E. Yang was sitting at 125 to 1 odds to win the tournament. Some people might have been ready to tear up their tickets if they bet on Yang, but he ended up storming back while Woods struggled, taking the title by three strokes.
5 Greece wins 2004 UEFA Euro
2004 marked the 12th time that the European nations banded together to participate in the UEFA Euro soccer tournament. Heading into the tournament, Greece had only been in it before once (in 1980) and had never won an international tournament in the country’s history. That’s why nobody thought Greece had a shot to win the 2004 as the 19th ranked European team. Greece stunned everyone, winning all three of their knockout games 1-0 over France, Czech Republic and then Greece, and their odds to win it all were 150 to 1.
4 Twins win 1991 World Series
Heading into the 1991 MLB season, nobody really gave the Atlanta Braves or Minnesota Twins a shot to win the World Series. Sportsbooks in Las Vegas were giving 200 to 1 odds on the Braves, and 300 to 1 on the Twins. However, the two would end up meeting each other in the World Series and whoever came through would be the biggest preseason longshot to win in baseball history. The Twins, who were even bigger longshots, took the series in a thrilling seven game classic that ended 1-0 in the 10th inning.
3 Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV
In 1998, the St. Louis Rams had a terrible season, finishing in last place in the NFC West at record of 4-12. Needless to say, the odds weren’t in their favor when quarterback Trent Green was injured in the preseason and former Arena Leaguer and grocery bagger Kurt Warner took over. Before the season started, Vegas deemed the Rams a 300 to 1 super longshot to win the Super Bowl. The Rams would respond by finishing the regular season 13-3 and defeated the Tennessee Titans in a classic game at Super Bowl XXXIV.
2 Brock Lesnar defeats Undertaker at Wrestlemania XXX
In the United States, they won’t let you bet on professional wrestling since it has scripted endings, but in parts of Europe you can lay bets down of up to $100. Some people made $50,000 betting on one particular match at Wrestlemania XXX. The Undertaker came into the match undefeated at the annual event with a record of 21-0. It didn’t seem like the WWE had long term plans for Brock Lesnar, so sportsbooks in Europe gave him 500 to 1 odds of ending The Undertaker’s streak. After three F-5’s, Lesnar pinned the Deadman and prompted some of the greatest crowd reactions of all-time.
1 Cardinals win 2011 World Series After September 12th
As of September 12th in the 2011 MLB Season, the St. Louis Cardinals appeared to be done. There were only 15 games left in the regular season, and they were five games behind of the Atlanta Braves for the Wild Card spot in the National League. One man from St. Louis walked up to the sportsbook counter at the MGM Grand, and placed two separate $250 bets. One was for the Cardinals to win the National League pennant at 500 to 1, and another was to win the whole thing at 999 to 1. The Cardinals stormed back to enter the playoffs and wound up winning the World Series, allowing the man to receive $374,750 in profit on his $500 bet.