Sports wagering can be a cruel form of entertainment or an entertaining form of cruelty, depending on how you look at it.
I’m not sure if prop bets make that sentiment worse or better, but I do know they are woven into the fabric of the Super Bowl. Oddsmakers offer odds on everything from the coin flip to the halftime show to various in-game firsts and totals.
Wagering actual money on any of these things is probably not smart, but just for fun I gathered up a hypothetical $1,000 (easier and safer than the real thing) and found nine bets I would make if I was so inclined.
In most cases, I eyeballed the bet, formulated an opinion, and did just enough research to support my theory without considering opposing information — basically everything a bad gambler would do. But with prop bets, there’s only so much you can do. That’s probably why they are so popular with both casinos and casual gamblers.
I’m posted them online on Friday in the name of accountability, and now you get to see the results (all odds from Oddsshark.com) in the order they paid (or didn’t pay).
• $160 (to win $100) that it will take Gladys Knight longer than 1:47 to sing the national anthem: WIN. I just always assume it will take forever to finish the anthem, and it took Knight a little over 2 minutes by my count. If I was singing the anthem, by the way, I’d bet $10 million on the under and sing as fast as humanly possible.
• $100 (to win $165) that the first turnover of the game will be a fumble: LOSS. I thought Jared Goff might fumble. I didn’t think Tom Brady would be intercepted on an awful pass on his first drive.
• $110 (to win $100) that there will be at least one field goal made in the first quarter: LOSS. Thanks for nothing, Stephen Gostkowski, for missing a 46-yarder in the first quarter.
• $135 (to win $100) on under 3.5 touchdowns scored in the first half: WIN. I was banking on a low-scoring first 30 minutes. I didn’t think there would be zero TDs, but a win is a win.
• $130 (to win $100) that Adam Levine will not be wearing a hat at the start of the halftime show: WIN. This was a ludicrous bet, but I did a Google image search for the Maroon 5 frontman and he isn’t wearing a hat in a single picture. So there you go.
• $110 (to win $100) on the longest field goal being over 45.5 yards: WIN. The logic was that Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein can make them from 60 yards plus. Even after Gostkowski let me down early, Zuerlein came through late with a 53-yarder.
• $40 (to win $2,000) on Tom Brady being the first touchdown scorer: LOSS. Brady’s a terrible scrambler, but at 50-to-1 odds why not take a flier? He’s great on QB sneaks. When the Patriots got near the goal line (finally) in the fourth quarter, I got excited. Alas, they ran it in the conventional way, with Sony Michel scoring instead.
• $115 (to win $100) that Jared Goff will run for more than 8.5 yards in the game: LOSS. He’s not very mobile, but he’s not a statue. I thought he would run more. Narrator: He did not.
• $100 (to win $100) that Rob Gronkowski will score a touchdown: LOSS. Again, so close. Gronk got them down to the 2, but not in the end zone.
• Final tally: Looks like I would have lost $65 after winning four bets and losing five. I’m sure plenty of people lost more, but that’s a pretty boring outcome — maybe befitting of that game? If anything, this illustrates why gambling is so frustrating: I would have been in the black if one of the best postseason kickers of all time had made an early field goal.