When Super Bowl 52 kicks off on Sunday, viewers around the world will be greeted by the familiar voice of Al Michaels. The legendary broadcaster has announced numerous Olympics, World Series, Kentucky Derbies, Stanley Cups, NBA Finals and Super Bowls.
Michaels is best known among sports bettors for his veiled and sometimes not-so-obscure gambling references during broadcasts.
Sportsbooks have begun listing odds on Michaels making a gambling reference during the Super Bowl. One oddsmaker has listed five such props. Will the man with the iconic voice say “underdog”, “odds”, “points spread”, “Vegas” or “sportsbook” during Super Bowl 52?
Let’s break these into two categories: the locks and the longshots. Note: It only counts if he says the word from kickoff to the final whistle, live NBC broadcast only, halftime and commercials don’t apply.
“Yes” for both of these props is -1000, bet $1,000 to win a $100. That is a steep price to pay but the odds suggest there is a 90.9% chance Michaels says these words.
What makes both so likely is that neither has to be in direct reference to sports betting. If I had to pick one, it would be “underdog” as the Eagles have been taking this whole underdog storyline seriously all postseason.
It would be more than a cheeky gambling reference for Michaels to say “sportsbook”, “point spread” or “Vegas” during the broadcast. What could propel him to make such a blatant betting insinuation?
If you bet the “Yes” on any of these props, you should cheer for a competitive game where a late score could swing the results in Vegas. How often has that happened in the Super Bowl?
In 51 Super Bowls to date, 27 (52.9%) have come within one score (8 points) of the spread. That means the team who covered could have pushed or lost near the end of the game. Of course, the spread comes into play more often in competitive games.
There have been 35 Super Bowls with a closing line of 7 or fewer points like this year’s matchup. In these games that the bookmakers expect to be closer, 20 (57.1%) were within eight points of the spread at the end of the game. And in 26 of 51 Super Bowls, the total points scored were within eight points or less (51.0%) of the over/under.
“Yes” bettors need a competitive game for these props to cash or they could get lucky like some “deflategate” bettors a few years back.
On Sunday, most viewers will be tuning in to see who wins, for me and other bettors, we want to hear if Al Michaels drops a gambling reference during the Super Bowl.
Photo via Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports