British oddsmakers pay up big on Leicester City's improbable run to English Premier League title.
Stories abound throughout the United Kingdom these days of people who put down a “fiver’’ on the longshot Leicester City soccer team to win the Premier League this season. Those people are in line to gain 25,000 pounds or dollars or euros, whatever fund they chose to use initially.
The Foxes, as Leicester City’s team is known, accomplished the totally unthinkable by winning the Premier League this year. So dominant were they that they claimed the title with two games left in their season.
Leicester City started the season off at 5,000-1 odds to win it all, after barely surviving the previous season. Bookmakers, knowing that only four clubs had won the Premiership in the past 20 years, made up that 5,000-1 number without any regard for what might happen, because it just wasn’t going to happen.
But it did.
Now, according to ESPN, legal bookmakers are in line to pay out $11.4 million to winners, the most ever paid out for an English Premier League title.
William Hill, a respected English bookmaker, announced it would be paying out three million pounds, the equivalent of $4.4 million. One fan from Manchester placed a 20-pound wager that will earn him the equivalent of $145,000.
Ladbrokes, another British firm, said it accepted 47 bets at 5,000-1.
“In 82 years of operating, William Hill has never before seen a price as big as 5,000-1 win, and I would be tempted to wager it may be another r82 years until we see it again,’’ said William Hill spokesperson Jo Crilly. “Put that into perspective, the likelihood of Leicester bagging the Premier League title at the start of the season was the same price as Elvis Presley being proved as still being alive.”
For context, you can currently place a wager at the firm known as Paddy Power for 500-1 that the Loch Ness monster will be discovered.
What about unlikely sporting events that have actually happened?
On Wednesday, the New York Times checked in with Ladbrokes and found out what sporting outcome they currently place at their highest odds. Northern Ireland is 2,000-1 to win the 2018 World Cup, an event Northern Ireland is likely not to even qualify for. Only 13 European teams get in.
Stateside, the Atlanta Braves are 500-1 to win the 2016 World Series. They lost 19 of their first 26 games this season, and in so doing hit only six home runs.
The Cleveland Browns, the laughingstock of the National Football League, have 150-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Remember, Leicester City had 5,000-1 odds to win the Premier League.
When the U.S. hockey team won the 1980 Olympic gold medal, it started the tournament with 1,000-1 odds. The 1999 St. Louis Rams, who were 4-12 in the previous season, went off at 300-1 to win the following year’s Super Bowl, which they did by a foot over the Tennessee Titans.
According to William Hill, the only events that were placed at 5,000-1 last August when the Premier League season started were Elvis found to be alive, Christmas being the warmest day of the year in the United Kingdom, and Kim Kardashian becoming U.S. president in 2020.
Current events being considered, you might want to throw a “fiver’’ down on that Kardashian wager.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.