The Super Bowl needs no introduction. The NFL’s championship game is the highest-rated television event in the United States on a yearly basis. You could have the Jacksonville Jaguars facing the Detroit Lions and the event would still draw more eyeballs than any other televised event in America in the calendar year.
In plenty of ways, the game itself is almost secondary. People all over the country use it as an excuse to get together and party. There is massive interest in seemingly minor things like the halftime show and the commercials, as well.
Obviously, the Super Bowl is a cash cow. It costs millions of dollars for companies to score a 30-second advertising spot. Tickets to the game itself run well into the thousands, even for the worst seats in the building. Even the parking outside the stadium will cost you a pretty penny.
Placing a wager on the Super Bowl is something of an American tradition in its own right. 2016’s event broke a record for the amount of money placed on the game in Las Vegas. Gamblers bet more than $132 million on the game in Vegas alone, which does not take into account the amount of money that was wagered outside the city.
Betting on the outcome of the game is the most popular bet, of course, but there are countless ways to score money on the big game.
As mentioned above, the Super Bowl is the most popular sporting event in the country on a yearly basis. Among the 20 most-viewed television programs in the history of the United States, 19 of them are Super Bowls. The only non-Super Bowl event to appear on the list was the finale of M*A*S*H in February of 1983.
Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks in 2015 is the most-viewed program in television history, followed closely by XLVIII in 2014 and 50 in 2016.
Proposition (“prop”) bets are an incredibly popular part of betting on the Super Bowl. A prop bet is a bet placed on all sorts of aspects of the game that have nothing to do with the actual winner or loser.
It was truly born back back in 1986 when the Chicago Bears toppled the New England Patriots. Many had wondered if Bears defensive tackle Williams “The Refrigerator” Perry would score an offensive touchdown in the game. He had made a few cameo appearances as an oversized running back for Chicago during the regular season, and everyone gets a good laugh when the fat guy scores a touchdown.
Despite odds as high as 75-to-1, Perry did find paydirt in the game, and the prop bet drew national attention as a result. Since then, prop bets have exploded into a regular part of betting on any sport.
Of course, you can still place a bet on whether Tom Brady will throw four touchdowns, or whether Julio Jones will top 100 receiving yards. If something statistical takes place in the game, you can likely bet on it.
One aspect that has really exploded in popularity is betting on some of the lesser aspects that do not have anything to do with the game of football itself.
You can bet on whether the coin will land on heads or tails when it’s flipped at the beginning of the game. You can place a bet on whether Lady Gaga will actually wear clothes during her halftime performance. You can even bet on how many times Patriots owner Robert Kraft will be shown on television during the game.
Some prop bets can be pretty out there, but it all adds to the fun and spectacle of the event itself.
We know that live betting is perhaps the fastest-growing aspect of betting on a sporting event. As we know, things can change in a flash in any football game, which opens up all sorts of possibilities when it comes to live betting on the game itself. Live bets are something of a cousin to prop bets.
Sportsbooks will adjust the spread, moneyline and implied totals as the game progresses. If the game is an offensive slugfest and blows by the initial over/under earlier than expected, you can keep hitting the updated over or under as much as you desire.
If you think Devonta Freeman will be the next player to find the end zone, that is a live bet you can place. If you think Tom Brady is going to get picked off on his next pass, why not throw some money down?
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player odds will update throughout the game, as well. If you think you can peg a little-known player that is going to bust out with a huge play, you can probably get some favorable odds on his MVP chances ahead of time.
The event pits the best teams against each other, but that does not mean there haven’t been some pretty major upsets in the past.
The most recent and perhaps most shocking Super Bowl upset of all time came back in 2008. The Patriots entered the game with a perfect record in their bid to become the second NFL team in history to run the table for a full season. They were thwarted by a fourth quarter comeback by Eli Manning and the New York Giants, however, and were defeated 17-14.
At the time, the Giants’ shocking victory was the most costly of any Super Bowl to Las Vegas sportsbooks. The unbeaten Patriots entered the game as hefty 14-point favorites, which is one of the biggest spreads in the history of the game. Nevada sportsbooks reportedly lost an estimated $2.6 million on bets on the game.
The Patriots have also been on the other end of a surprising outcome. They entered Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point underdogs to the St. Louis Rams but pulled off a shocking 20-17 win on the shoulders of an Adam Vinatieri game-winning field goal as time expired.
The largest spread in Super Bowl history was in Super Bowl III when the New York Jets were whopping 18-point dogs to the Baltimore Colts. Joe Namath infamously guaranteed the Jets would pull off the upset, and he delivered a 16-7 victory for New York.
Favorites have gone 33-15 straight up and 26-18-2 against the spread over the course of the first 50 events. The over/under has a 25-24 record.
Super Bowl XLIX between the Patriots and Seahawks is the only one of the first 50 events that was listed as a pick ‘em. The underdog covered the spread in each event between 2012 and 2016.
Favorites have predictably held a fairly substantial advantage in Super Bowls over the years. Underdogs are just 15-33 against the spread over the course of the first 50 games. However, recent years have favored the teams most expected to come out on the losing end. The underdog has covered the spread in each of these events between 2012 and 2016, excluding the 2015 event between the Patriots and Seahawks, which was listed as a pick ‘em.
They say defense wins championships, but the over has actually held the slightest of advantages over the under in the past. 25 Super Bowls have gone over the implied total, while 24 have gone under. The over/under did not come into play until event #2, which explains why there are only 49 results to this point.
A push is certainly a rare result in any sport, and the Super Bowl is no exception. Just two of the previous 50 games have resulted in a push, and they came within four years of one another. The books nailed Packers -14 in Super Bowl XXXI when Green Bay toppled the Patriots 35-21. The books were also on the money in Super Bowl XXXIV, when the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans by exactly seven points.
Prop bets are everywhere. You can find a prop bet for just about everything, but some of the most popular are the result of the coin toss, the length of the national anthem and which color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach.
As you might expect from the coin toss, the results are nearly 50/50. Tails has come out on top in 26 of the 50 events.
As for the national anthem, the average amount of time the song has lasted over the course of the last 11 eevnts is one minute, 58 seconds. Billy Joel sang the quickest anthem in this span, clocking in at just one minute, 30 seconds. Alicia Keys made the most of her time in the spotlight, taking two minutes and 30 seconds to complete the Star Spangled Banner.
The Gatorade shower is another prop bet that has gone down-the-middle in recent years. From XXXV through L, “clear” and “orange” were tied with four splashings apiece.
Considering new records regarding the money spent gambling on the event seem to be set each and every year, it feels safe to say more and more money will keep flowing in on an annual basis. It is easily the most popular event in the United States from a sports gambling perspective every year.
From prop bets, live bets, bets on the spread, bets on the moneyline, bets on the outcome to whatever else you can conjure up, there are essentially unlimited ways to get in on the action. There is plenty of money to be won, so why wait?