I pick out some crazy bets on the Super Bowl, including things like the top commercial, the Boss’s halftime set list and potential player arrests.
The Super Bowl is one of the largest gambling events annually… and, in the late ’80s, sportsbooks realized people wanted to do more than bet on the spread or the over-under. Which sparked the world of Super Bowl prop bets.
The most famous of these is betting on the coin toss… it’s a perfect 50-50 wager (better than betting on red or black in roulette because there’s no insidious green zero or double zero). But that bet barely scratches the surface of the Super Bowl prop bet universe.
As people have gotten stranger, prop bets have now overtaken regular bets as the most popular means of Super Bowl gambling. Jay Kornegay, the head of the sportsbook at the Imperial Palace in Vegas, says 60 percent of their Super Bowl bets are prop bets.
I dug through the Super Bowl XLIII prop bets being offered by one Vegas casino (the Hilton) and two online casinos (Bodog and BetUS) to find the weirdest, strangest, stupidest and most entertaining bets for this year’s game.
And, for added value, I’m offering my suggestions on how I would bet these.
1 | How long will it take Jennifer Hudson to sing the National Anthem?
Bodog has over two minutes, one second at -155 and under two minutes, one second at +115.
It’s a tough line. This video to the right of her singing it at the Democratic National Convention has her going exactly 2:03… because she does all kinds of vocal gymnastics on the final “brave.” But in this video she doesn’t do any of that and checks in right at two minutes.
Ultimately, I bet the over here. It’s the Super Bowl, it’s 90 million people watching… she’s going to want to do all of those vocal runs that Randy Jackson is so in love with. I see her entering the final line around 1:45 and then finding a way to extend the song well into the 2:10 range.
2 | Which Super Bowl commercial will have the highest rating on USA Today’s Ad Meter?
Bodog has Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser at 10/11, GoDaddy.com at 8/1, Pepsi at 3/1, Coca-Cola at 9/2, McDonald’s at 7/1, Doritos at 3/1 and the field at 9/4.
My first instinct, even though it’s worse-than-even bet, is Anheuser-Busch. Not only do they generally have the most commercials, but they always go for humor in their commercials. Oh, and according to this press release, they’ve won the Ad Meter ten years in a row.
If you don’t want to go that generic, Pepsi has been creeping up the past few years with stronger ads. Otherwise, I’d bet the field over any of the other choices.
3 | How many food items will John Madden mention during the game?
Bodog very craftily sets the line here at 1.5. The over is -280, the under is +220.
You figure at some point, NBC comes back from a commercial and shows the concession stands… and Madden will HAVE to mention that. So that one’s a given, making the question: Will John Madden bring up food at any other point?
And I say yes. Bet the over. Even if he doesn’t mention Turducken, I’m thinking he mentions the restaurants they’ve been going to in Tampa or saying Roethlisberger enough times makes him think “hamburger.”
4 | Which NBC show will get the most promos during the game?
Bodog set the options here as The Office at 5/8, Heroes at 9/4, 30 Rock at 7/2, Chuck at 13/2, Friday Night Lights at 10/1, Jay Leno at 18/1 and Conan O’Brian at 20/1.
I do like that Office pick… 30 Rock isn’t going to get a giant audience no matter how many promos they give it, Friday Night Lights has no prayer, Heroes is more of an embarrassment at this point, no one even knows Chuck is still on TV and the late night guys are too far from their time slot switches.
But… if you are going to go for a longshot, I like the Jay Leno one. Moving him to the nightly 10 P.M. timeslot is huge and I could see NBC taking this chance to make sure everyone knows about it. The max wager on this is $50 but if you throw $50 on Leno at 18/1, that’s a cool $900 if I’m right.
5 | What color Gatorade will be dumped on the head coach of the winning team?
Strange odds here. Lime green gets 5/1, yellow gets 3/1, orange gets 13/2, red gets 7/2, blue gets 8/1, and clear or water gets 5/6.
Yellow is the most popular flavor, so the low odds make sense. The 5/6 for clear or water is baffling to me. Gatorade’s website isn’t even promoting any lime green flavor right now.
Sideline Gatorade tends to be lighter colors, especially for games where the coach has to go on camera right afterward, so that eliminates orange, red and blue for me. So I think I’m going with yellow here.
6 | How many times will NBC show Brenda Warner on TV during the game?
Back when Kurt Warner was in his first Super Bowl a decade ago, his wife got a lot of screen time. And everyone made the joke that she was clearly his wife from his days as a grocery bagboy and not an MVP-level NFL quarterback.
But in the 2000s, something strange happened. When no one was looking, Brenda Warner got attractive. Sure, I think plastic surgery (and the very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very smart decision to grow out her hair) played a big role.
So Bodog has set the over-under to 2.5 appearances during the game. The over is +135, the under is -175.
I’m betting the over here for two main reasons. One: As I said before, she’s now easier to look at.
And two: The trend in football broadcasts to cut to a quarterback’s family during a tight game has reached pandemic levels. When I was watching my Northwestern Wildcats play Missouri in the Alamo Bowl back in December, ESPN showed Missouri QB Chase Daniels’s family no fewer than 6,500 times during the final drive of regulation. (Which ended in a missed Missouri field goal, by the way.)
7 | What is the jersey number of the player to score the first touchdown?
The Las Vegas Hilton’s over-under here is 38.5, with even money odds on both.
Which is baffling to me for this specific game. Because generally, this question is “Does a running back (who have low jersey numbers) or wide receiver (who have high jersey numbers) score first?” But in this game, almost EVERYONE who’s a good candidate to score first has a low jersey number.
On Arizona, Warner is #13, Hightower is #34, James is #32, Arrington is #28 and, most importantly, Fitzgerald is #11. Toss in that Breaston is #15 and that leaves almost every potential offensive threat (besides a sulking Boldin #81 and the lower level receivers and tight ends) as an under 38.5 jersey.
On Pittsburgh it’s slightly less cut-and-dry, Roethlisberger is #7, Moore is #21, Holmes is #10 and Sweed is #14. That leaves Willie Parker just over at #39, along with Ward #86, Washington #85, Miller #83, and the rest of the lower level receivers.
What all that means? If you think Arizona’s going to score first, bet the under. And if Pittsburgh does score first, you still have a decent (but not great) chance to still win with the under.
8 | Bruce Springsteen’s halftime set list
Here are the possibilities on BetUs:
A.) Glory Days, My Lucky Day, Badlands, Born to Run – 5/2
B.) Born in the USA, Thunder Road, Rosalita, My Lucky Day – 3/1
C.) Glory Days, Born to Run, The Rising, Working on a Dream – 7/2
D.) Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Radio Nowhere, The Rising – 5/1
E.) Born to Run, Rosalita, Working on a Dream, The Rising – 8/1
F.) Rosalita, The Wrestler, Glory Days, Born to Run – 8/1
G.) The Rising, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Working on a Dream, Hungry Heart – 15/1
This feels like a process of elimination scenario, even though, admittedly, I don’t love any of the set list options. I’m getting rid of F because I just don’t see him doing The Wrestler… I know it’s his new one, but the Super Bowl halftime show is a time for classics.
I hate option G, and I’m crossing that off too. I feel like Glory Days is a strong bet because it kinda sums up the Super Bowl thematically… so that knocks out B, D and E.
That leaves A and C. I like him ending on Born to Run in option A… but the song selection in option C feels a bit more rounded out. So I’d go with option C if I was going to bet this.
That being said, my real guess would be Glory Days, Dancing in the Dark (Super Bowl halftime shows love dancing), The Rising and Born to Run, which is not an option on here.
9 | The player most likely to get arrested leading up to or after the Super Bowl
BetUS has JJ Arrington and Santonio Holmes as co-favorites, both at 2/1. Then Anquan Boldin at 5/2, Larry Fitzgerald at 5/1 and Matt Leinart at 10/1.
First off, Fitzgerald is a terrible bet… he’s a smart guy (I mean, he wears glasses off the field!) and realizes that this game is his chance to vault into the top five superstars in the NFL, he’s not going to blow it.
Boldin is disgruntled but not “I’m gonna go crazy and get arrested” disgruntled, so I’m eliminating him too. Last June, Arrington was arrested for disorderly conduct for getting in a fight. That hardly makes him a career criminal… he’s only on here by default.
Holmes has a more checkered history — a disorderly conduct arrest in May ’06, a domestic violence arrest in June ’06 and a marijuana bust in October ’08. He seems like a decent bet… but I’m going with Leinart. The combination of his love of partying coupled with his mental trauma over being benched for an 84-year-old quarterback who then took the team to the Super Bowl just looks to be overwhelming.
Take those 10/1 odds and make a fortune.
10 | Willie Parker rushing attempts or Allen Iverson points?
There are a ton of these cross-sports bets for the Super Bowl, but this one felt like the smartest bet to me.
The Las Vegas Hilton has it Parker attempts -3.5 over Iverson points.
The Detroit Pistons play the Cleveland Cavs on Sunday morning. I’ve been watching the Cavs get torched by Iverson for a decade now. They can’t keep that lil’ bastard under control. So even if Willie Parker gets 30 carries (which seems high)… and even though Iverson is having an off year and the Cavs defense is graet… can’t see any way that this is close. Bet on Iverson.
Just not to ever win a championship.
11 | Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first?
God is a less-than-even bet on Bodog, at 4/5. Family comes in at 4/1, teammates at 2/1, coach at 17/2 and no thanks given at all at 4/1.
If you think Arizona wins, then Warner’s probably MVP. And if Warner is MVP, then you KNOW God gets the first mention. Warner has found a way to get the words “God,” “Jesus” or “Lord” into every sentence he’s said in the past 20 years.
Here’s what you might not know: After the Steelers won the AFC Championship, Roethlisberger also thanked God first.
So if you’re going to play the odds that a quarterback will be the MVP, both of them seem pretty God-oriented right now. Go with God.
And don’t worry… I’m sure God’s cool with you gambling on Him.
[Edit on 2/2: To see how these turned out, check out my post 11 Follow-Ups to the Weirdest Super Bowl XLIII Prop Bets.]