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How Sony Michel’s TD Saved Sportsbooks from Disaster

Feb 04, 2019 5:38 PM EST
Credit:

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Sony Michel

  • The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted its "No Touchdown" prop bet for Super Bowl 53 at 500-1.
  • One bettor was so riveted by the prospect of winning the longshot wager that, in the fourth quarter, he was standing on his bed while watching the game.

Jay Kornegay was worried.

His SuperBook at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas had already paid out 100-1 “No Touchdown” prop in the first half of Super Bowl 53. And he was sweating the possibility of paying out no touchdown for the game, which went off at 500-1.

“We didn’t have big money on it, but I kept thinking that, if I had to pay this out, it would be the worst result on a prop we’ve ever had,” Kornegay said.

The proposition of doing so before the game seemed so outrageous. The over/under, after all, closed at 56 at Westgate. Of course there was going to be a touchdown.

The Rams scored the second-most points in the regular season (32.9 ppg). No team had averaged more points in the postseason than the Patriots — 41 against the Chargers, 37 against the Chiefs.

The last time the Rams didn’t score a touchdown in a game? Week 14 of the 2016 season. The last time the Patriots didn’t score a touchdown, with Tom Brady starting a game, came more than four years ago (Week 17 of the 2014 season)

Eli French, a 34-year-old poker dealer from Detroit, walked into the Superbook on Saturday and liked what he saw in the “No TD” props.

He was late to get the 100-1 on the first half prop. It was down to 18-1. He still took it and walked with $180.

He wasn’t late on the “No TD” for game prop.

“I thought it was a good bet,” said French, who bet $10 to win $5,000. “Not like I’m saying I thought it was going to happen. It hadn’t happened in the 52 games before, but 500 is a lot of games.”

In the first half, there were eight punts, as the Patriots took a 3-0 lead into halftime. There were another four punts in the third quarter before the Rams kicked a field goal. Then the ball went back and forth again.

French, who was watching the game in his hotel room at Harrah’s, said he started to sweat in the third quarter.

“I was standing on my bed,” French said.

With 9:43 left in the fourth quarter, the Patriots took over from their own 31-yard line. Brady got to work. With three passes, he got the Patriots down to the 2-yard line, where Sony Michel punched it in.

“I was disappointed, but enjoyed the sweat,” French said.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

In 1986, a few sportsbooks offered this prop for Super Bowl XX between the Chicago Bears and the Patriots: “Will Bears defensive end William the Refrigerator Perry score a touchdown?” The prop opened at 75-1 and was bet on enough to have it drop to 2-1 by kickoff.

It’s considered the wager that turned prop betting into what it is today.

“That was a five-figure loss only because there were only so many books that offered it,” Kornegay said. “The no TD prop this year would have caused a loss of 10 times that.”

Kornegay said there’s a lesson to be learned about how high he started the odds at.

“It probably shouldn’t have been that high,” he said. “It won’t be next year.”

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