Biggest, wildest bets and trends

  • David Purdum and Doug Greenberg

Feb 5, 2024, 04:30 PM ET

More than $300 billion has been bet with American sportsbooks since 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court released a ruling that sparked widespread expansion of legal betting. Now, for the first time, the Super Bowl — the most heavily bet single game in U.S. sports — is coming to Las Vegas.

Amazing.

In the first week since the matchup was set, there was at least one million-dollar bet, a six-figure wager on the coin flip (tails never fails!) and a slew of Taylor Swift-related prop offerings from sportsbooks.

Bigger and wilder bets are expected, and ESPN’s sports betting team, led by writers Doug Greenberg and David Purdum, will follow it all in this updating file that’s ripe for bookmarking.

Good luck!


What a newbie Vegas bookie learned about making Super Bowl prop odds

The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas posts its giant suite of Super Bowl prop bets on Thursdays, 10 days ahead of the Super Bowl and annually attracts a line of a few dozen wise guys who wait their turn to place up to two $2,000 limit wagers before returning to the back of the line.

“The people betting on Thursday obviously look at things a little differently than the public,” said Chase Michaelson, who last week worked his way through SuperBook’s process of creating odds on hundreds of Super Bowl prop for the second time since joining company.

After attending Michigan State, Michaelson, 26, landed in Las Vegas toward the end of the pandemic and joined the SuperBook oddsmaking staff in 2021. Last year’s Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs was his first helping make props at the SuperBook.

“The biggest thing that I would say I learned is to look beyond the obvious,” Michaelson said.

This year, the SuperBook posted its opening prop odds a few hours earlier than normal to accommodate local TV. The change in start time coincided with the second-half of a slew of early college basketball games going to halftime, requiring oddsmakers to post lines for the second half. At the same time, the wise guys were stepping up to the counter, firing aways $2,000 limit bets on everything from Deebo Samuel over receptions and yards to over on 3.5 combined field goals.

“It was a little chaotic because the bets are flying in on that stuff at the same time,” Michaelson said. “I think I typed in the wrong thing on something but realized it quickly.” Michaelson said the limit bettors bet over 74.5 on the combined yardages of all touchdowns scores in the Super Bowl, moving the number to 78.5.

“That’s a pretty significant move on something like that,” he said. “That was a pretty sharp group on that.”

Written by David Purdum


Interest in underdog Orange

“Purple” has separated itself as the clear-but favorite to be the color of Gatorade dumping on the winning coach, but underdog “Orange” was attracting from bettors. Orange had attracted 33% of the money wagered on the prop as of Monday at BetMGM, more than Purple, Blue and Clear/Water combined. You can wager on there not being a Gatorade Bath at 20-1.

TD Favorite

• 49ers running back Christian McCaffery is around -225 to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, the shortest odds of any player, but that’s actually longer than he’s been in each of his previous six games. McCaffery had been an odds-on favorite of at least -300 to score touchdowns in previous six games. He has scored a TD in 15 of his last 18 games.

Champs as public dogs

A release from sportsbook BetRivers on Monday leads off with “The betting public has spoken, and it is saying “Chiefs” loud and clear. The sportsbook reported 73% of the bets and 76% of the point spread money that had been placed entering Monday morning was on Kansas City.

Super Bowl LVIII

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, Feb. 11, 6 p.m. ET, Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas

Consensus point spread and total: 49ers -2, 47.5
Money line: San Francisco -130/Kansas City +110

Action report: The early betting has been lopsided on the underdog Chiefs, with BetMGM, DraftKings, ESPN BET and FanDuel each reporting 71-76% of the spread bets on Kansas City.

Action on the money line also is lopsided, with around 85% of the bets on Kansas City as of Feb. 2.

Saturday update: After an initial move toward the Chiefs, the Super Bowl point spread has been ticking back up toward the favored 49ers. The SuperBook on Saturday bumped the line up to San Francisco -2.5.

Jeff Sherman, vice president of risk for the SuperBook, told ESPN an accumulation of bets on the 49ers prompted the move. “We just want to put it out there, see if anyone wants 2.5 at this time,” Sherman said in a text message.

The big Super Bowl bets

$1 million: The first of what’s expected to be several million-dollar Super Bowl bets was reported Jan. 30 by Caesars Sportsbook. The bet: $1 million on the 49ers money line (-120).

• $120,000: One bettor at South Point put in wagers for 60 different props across the board at $2,000 each for a total of $120,000, per Vaccaro.

$105,000: Legendary Las Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro of the South Point casino reported taking a $105,000 bet on the 49ers -1 on Jan. 29.

$105,000: One bettor at BetMGM put down $140 on Kyle Juszczyk to win Super Bowl MVP at 750-1 odds. The wager would net $105,000 if Juszczyk claims the award.

$100,000: Caesars reported taking a $100,000 on the coin toss to land tails from a Michigan bettor on Jan. 30. A hundred K on the coin toss? What the flip!?

Side note: The most popular prop bet at DraftKings as of Feb. 2 was… tails. The second-most popular: heads.

$25,000 to win $1 million: A bettor with DraftKings reportedly put $25,000 on Kansas City running back Isiah Pacheco to be named Super Bowl MVP. At 40-1, the bet would pay $1 million.

$15,000 to win $975,000: A bettor with DraftKings dropped $15,000 on Chiefs receiver Rashee Rice to be MVP. At 65-1, the bet would win $975,000.