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Marky’s Malarkey: Using Genetics to Break Down Royal Baby Hair Color Props

Nov 17, 2018 1:36 PM EST
  • Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is expecting to have her and Prince Harry's first child this upcoming spring, and some offshore sportsbooks have posted a variety of prop bets for the occasion.
  • Most of the props are up to chance, such as what day of the week will it be born, but one prop — will the baby have red hair? — will be decided by genetics.
  • Marky contacted a genetic consultant to see where the value lies.

There have been “Royal Baby” props up around the offshore market for some time now. Each day, I check the entertainment section on Bovada hoping to see something new that catches my eye, but instead, I still see the same hoard of “Royal Baby” props. The “Royal Baby” refers to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s bundle of joy that is due to arrive next spring. Excuse me — Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. Oh how I wish my name had a comma in it.

Until recently, I never even looked at these props closely for a couple of reasons.

  1. I’m very anti-royalty. What’s so special about this baby? It comes from a long line of snobby jerks who were all lucky enough to be born royal themselves? I may have my history wrong, but didn’t the pilgrims bounce from the motherland because of the monarchy … you know, like 400 years ago? I could go on for hours about my disdain for Her Majesty The Queen, but I’ll spare you readers the trouble. Let’s just say I’d snub the old bag if I were to make a Wimbledon finals. That scenario is becoming increasingly unlikely, though, as I’m on the wrong side of 25 and have yet to turn pro.
  2. Bovada lost my attention when I saw their first listing — which day of the week will the baby be born — with each of the seven days having a +550 payout. I’m not about that -EV lifestyle. Go ahead and lay -115 on whether it’ll be a boy or girl all you want, but making bets like those will catch up to you in the long run.

However, I noticed one of the props the other day and realized that it could be solved. In other words, it isn’t up to random luck.

The prop:

Harry & Meghan: Will their first born child have red hair?

  • Yes: +300
  • No: -400

Upon a search of various offshore books, I found one other that had the same prop — MyBookie. Their odds are quite different, with “yes” at +1000 and “no” at -2000.

Before analyzing the prop, let’s start with a personal anecdote:

I Could’ve Been a Ginger

 

First off, let me start by saying that I was almost a ginger — not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Both of my sisters were born with red hair to varying degrees, but I was spared. My pops had strawberry-blondish hair when he was young, but has brown hair now. Neither his parents nor his three brothers had red hair. My mom has brown hair and none of her eight siblings or parents had red hair. They were probably pretty surprised when their first born strolled out looking like Opie Taylor.

That just goes to show you: The red hair gene is a sneaky son of a B.

The Royal Gene Pool

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex both have interesting genetic backgrounds that will play into the creation of the Toddler of Sussex.

The reason this prop bet exists is obviously because of Prince Harry’s luscious locks of red. The Carson Wentz doppleganger hardly comes from an O’Doyle-like lineage of redheads, though.

Neither his father, Prince Charles, nor his mother, the late Lady Di, donned the fiery hair he’s been blessed with. His older bro’s hair has seen better days, but was what I would describe as dirty blonde back in its heyday.

Sprinkled among the Royal Cousins of Prince Harry are a few redheads here and there, but there are plenty of dark haired princes and princesses, too.


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Unfortunately, you can’t find every single member of The Duchess’s extended family on Wikipedia so there are only a handful of relatives whose hair we can analyze. We know that both her parents had brown/black hair and she does, too. However, things get spicy when we delve deeper into the family tree.

Before I go any further, it’s time to take a detour into the wonderful world of science.

Expert Analysis

You may see our articles titled “Expert picks” or something along those lines with a number of our employees picking winners or against-the-spread picks or what have you. Though the red hair gene is present in my family tree, I do not consider myself an expert on the subject.

Instead, I contacted my genetic consultant, Nicole Wood. I’ve been in touch with her for months to ensure any possible offspring I have are not gingers. Just kidding, she’s my friend’s sister. She is a genetic consultant, though.

According to Nicole, “Red hair is a recessive trait with several genes involved — almost all of which need to have the recessive allele to create the red hair. If there’s a dominant allele (brown, black) in the mix, the darker hair will be more prevalent.”

Her initial estimate was that there’s greater than a 90% chance the baby would not have red hair because of the Duchess’s African-American background and black hair, which would dominate the DNA.

However, when doing some further digging, I stumbled upon the existence of this boy in a grainy retro photo:

That orange mop is a spitting image of the one I photoshopped onto the baby up top. This little fella is Thomas Markle Jr. — Meghan’s half brother. Also pictured is her grandfather, the stogie-touting Gordon Markle, and half sister, Samantha Markle.

They were the product of Thomas Markle’s first marriage with Roslyn Loveless, of whom there is basically one picture of on the internet. She’s darn old, now, but appears to have strawberry-blondish hair. Initially, I thought that Tommy Jr. was a redhead exclusively because of her, but I was wrong.

“That means her dad carries some of those recessive genes needed for red hair, and there’s a chance he passed them to her.”

However, this doesn’t change Nicole’s opinion all that much. She still estimates there’s only about a 12-15% chance the baby has red hair.

The Pick

Bovada’s +300 odds on “yes” represent a 25% chance the baby has red hair so definitely don’t touch those. The -400 odds on “no” represent only an 80% chance it doesn’t, though. Given Nicole’s input, these odds should be somewhere between -566 and -733. VALUE ON NO.

At MyBookie, there is definitely no value on no, but there is some value on yes. Their +1000 odds suggest there’s only a hair (pun intended) over a 9% chance it’ll be a redhead.

There’s technically an arbitrage opportunity here if you have accounts at both books, but given the fact that these props almost certainly have very low limits, there’s not much money to be made.

I don’t love laying big prices, especially moneylines for actual sports, but I’m not afraid to do it on props — especially when science is on my side.

No: -400

Follow Mark Gallant on Twitter
@marky_money

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