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A History of Super Bowl Betting

The Super Bowl Draws Big Bets Each Year

The Super Bowl continues to captivate audiences year after year. Fans tune in not only for the game itself, but also for the memorable commercials, star-studded halftime shows, and host parties. For many viewers, Super Bowl Sunday has also become synonymous with betting on the big game.

There have now been 57 Super Bowls played, and each one seems to produce new gambling storylines. With Super Bowl LVIII set to take place in Las Vegas between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, let’s take a look back at some of the notable moments in Super Bowl betting history:

Super Bowl III Features Namath’s Bold Guarantee

It could be argued that the first iconic gambling moment in Super Bowl history occurred during Super Bowl III in 1969. This was when New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath made his legendary guarantee that his underdog Jets would defeat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.

Legendary oddsmaker Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder set the Colts as 17-point favorites in that matchup. But according to author Mark Kriegel in his Namath biography, the Jets star knew the spread and assured friends that the Jets would win outright at the posted 7-to-1 moneyline odds. “Bet it,” Namath urged. “Bet the ranch.” Namath would famously back up his guarantee as the Jets stunned the Colts 16-7 despite the massive point spread.

Steelers Upset Causes “Black Sunday” for Books

Ask any longtime oddsmaker about Super Bowl XIII in 1979, and they may refer to the game as “Black Sunday.” This was when the Pittsburgh Steelers upset the Dallas Cowboys 35-31 as 3.5-point underdogs.

The game was an all-around disaster for sportsbooks. The Steelers had opened as a 2.5-point favorite before significant Cowboys money flipped the line to Steelers +3.5. With many tickets on both sides, the 35-31 Pittsburgh win meant most bets cashed. Making matters even worse, Resorts International had offered a special promotion allowing bets on both Steelers +4.5 and Cowboys -3.5. According to reports, sportsbooks across Las Vegas lost over $1 million on Super Bowl XIII.

Refrigerator Prop Opens Floodgates for Wacky Bets

Another notable gambling moment occurred during Chicago’s 46-10 rout of New England in Super Bowl XX following the 1985 season. With the game largely viewed as a blowout-in-the-making, Caesar’s Palace oddsmaker Art Manteris decided to spice things up by posting a fun prop bet:

Would Chicago Bears defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry score a touchdown? While reports vary on the initial odds posted, they are believed to have opened around 20-to-1 before quickly dropping closer to kickoff. Manteris estimates the prop cost Caesars $100,000 when Perry did in fact find the end zone.

But the buzz created by the bet is credited with ushering in the now-massive proliferation of Super Bowl prop wagers. Today, both serious and silly proposition bets can be placed on practically everything from first touchdown scorer to the color of the Gatorade bath given to the winning coach.

$2.4M Super Bowl Bet Sets Record

While it may not have seemed like a particularly daring play at the time, one bettor made history with a $2.4 million wager on the San Francisco 49ers as 18.5-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX following the 1994 season.

The bet more than doubled the previous record for the largest Super Bowl wager. And when the 49ers rolled to a 49-26 victory, the bettor took home a $300,000 profit.

Super Bowl XLIX Closes as Rare Pick ‘Em

Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 marked one of the only times in history that a Super Bowl featured no favorite. Oddsmakers tabbed the game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks as a straight-up pick ’em.

As it turned out, their assessment was spot on. The game went down to the wire, with the Patriots narrowly edging the Seahawks 28-24 thanks to Malcolm Butler’s last-minute interception at the goal line.

House Takes Big Loss in Super Bowl MVP Voting Debut

When Nevada gaming laws changed in 2015 to allow betting on awards decided by a vote, sportsbooks decided to begin taking action on Super Bowl MVP for the first time the following year in Super Bowl 50.

It turned out to be a costly debut. Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller opened at long 60-to-1 odds to win MVP. But a flood of bets on Miller eventually dropped his odds all the way down to 15-to-1. So when Miller did in fact dominate on his way to claiming MVP honors, Nevada books suffered significant losses in their maiden voyage taking bets on the award.

Falcons’ Collapse Crushes Bettors’ Dreams

No recounting of infamous Super Bowl bad beats would be complete without reliving the Atlanta Falcons’ epic collapse against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons dominated the early part of the game and held a commanding 28-3 lead late into the third quarter. But they somehow squandered the advantage in what became the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, losing to the Pats 34-28 in overtime.

The result was absolutely crushing for Falcons backers and those who bet the under on the game’s lofty 57-point total. To this day, those bettors still struggle to comprehend how Atlanta let a 25-point lead slip away on football’s biggest stage.

Mahomes Kneels Away Over Yards

Another recent Super Bowl produced a bizarre bad beat for bettors. Heading into the fourth quarter of the Kansas City Chiefs’ victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes had already racked up 44 rushing yards.

That appeared to make Mahomes an easy over on the 30.5-yard total set by oddsmakers. But incredibly, while kneeling out the clock late in the fourth quarter, Mahomes lost a staggering 15 yards on three consecutive kneel downs executed way deeper in the backfield than normal. His final rushing tally: 29 yards. Cue the groans from those who wagered on the over.

Mattress Mack’s $5M Losing Bet

Of course, far more was on the line for famed Houston mattress sales mogul Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. He placed a whopping $5 million moneyline bet on the Cincinnati Bengals +170 to win over the favored Los Angeles Rams in last year’s Super Bowl LVI.

McIngvale would have taken home $8.5 million had his Bengals pulled the upset. Instead, his futures ticket turned to confetti when the Rams drove for the late go-ahead touchdown.

2022: More States, Bigger Bets

While Arizona hosted last year’s Super Bowl, the American Gaming Association estimated a staggering 50.4 Americans placed $16 billion in wagers on the big game. With more states than ever before offering legalized sports betting, and this year’s Super Bowl taking place in gambling mecca Las Vegas, 2023 could see both records shattered.

Take Advantage of North Carolina Sportsbook Offers

And for residents of North Carolina looking to get in on the action, be sure to take advantage of the generous North Carolina sports betting sites and North Carolina sportsbook promos currently available. Top options include:

  • North Carolina sports betting apps – Download user-friendly apps from top operators like DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars
  • North Carolina sportsbook promos – Claim valuable bonuses like bet credits, profit boosts and risk-free bets
  • Caesars North Carolina promo code – Enter promo code NCWAGER on Caesars Sportsbook in North Carolina for special offers

With more wagering options and attractive incentives than ever before, there’s never been a better time to bet on the Super Bowl in North Carolina!

✅ Fact Checked on February 5, 2024 by Ken Weaver