People play the lottery because they want to win a life-changing sum of money, and yet when sports bettors reveal a similar aspiration, they tend to get laughed at.
Why? After all, becoming a millionaire through winning the lottery or via a sports betting parlay is equally as unlikely – there really is no difference between them.
That said, millionaires are made via the lottery every week, and there are plenty of examples of sports bettors that have gone on to take down mammoth payoutsas well.
Here are 12 examples of plucky punters that have won big with their sports tickets.
- Anonymous ($14 Million)
Unfortunately for this column, one of the richest winners in sports betting chose to remain anonymous!
Little is known of their identity, although rumors suggest it was an individual from South Korea, and he or she certainly knows their stuff when it comes to betting on baseball (or “야구에베팅” as they would say in their own language).
They ran a progressive ticket for the 2017 World Series, wagering on the outcome of each game between the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros. The punter was so successful in their predictions that they accumulated some $14 million in winnings across several different online sportsbooks.
- Billy Walters (Around $5.8 Million)
Widely regarded as one of the most successful sports bettors of all time, Billy Walters’ finest day in wagering came at Super Bowl XLIV.
He placed a $3.5 million wager on the underdogs, New Orleans Saints, and they went on to oblige with a 31-17 victory.
Although his actual payout has never been reported, we know that the Saints were available at odds of around +166 – meaning that Walters netted in the region of $5.8 million1.
- Dave Oancea ($2.5 million)
Although a somewhat controversial figure in sports gambling for his boorish demeanor and questionable ‘pick selling’ ethics, there’s no doubt that Dave Oancea knows how to land a big winner or two.
Better known as ‘Vegas Dave’, Oancea’s finest hour came when he backed the relatively unfavored Kansas City Royals to win the World Series back in 2015.
The Royals did the business, and Vegas Dave profited to the tune of $2.5 million from a $140,000 wager.
- Steve Whiteley (Around $1.8 million)
It’s off to the UK now for an extraordinary horse racing bet.
Steve Whiteley, a 61-year-old plumber, placed a speculative six-leg wager on the Tote for a day of horse racing at Exeter.
Not perturbed by the fact that one of his horses hadn’t won for 28 races, Whiteley must have watched on in disbelief as all six of his picks triumphed,turning his $2 stake into a mammoth payout of just over $1.8 million.
- James Adducci ($1.2 million)
Here’s an incredible story – James Adducci had never placed a bet on sports in his life before2.
But so confident was he that Tiger Woods would win The Masters in 2019 – or, at least, so swept away by the narrative of the returning legend – he placed an $85,000 ticket on the ‘Big Cat’ at odds of +1400.
As those at the top of the leaderboard crumbled, Tiger’s class – despite countless surgeries on his back – came to the fore, and he completed one of the most remarkable victories in sporting history,helping Adducci to $1.2 million in the process.
- Fred Craggs (Around $1.2 million)
Imagine becoming an overnight millionairewhile staking less than a dollar into the bargain.
That’s what the Brit Fred Craggs did in 2006 – winning an incredible seven-figure sum on an eight-leg parlay while staking 50p,the equivalent of around 65 cents.
All eight of his horses won, and he became the UK’s first bettingshop millionaire.
- Anonymous (Around $1.03 million)
Horse racing is a sport that has been very kind to big-odds bettors in the UK.
In 2017, another individual from the county of Leicestershire struck big, placing $23 on a parlay and – after seeing all five of his horses win – makingjust over $1 million for his troubles.
- Charles Barkley ($800,000)
Yes, you read that correctly – former NBA star Charles Barkley makes it onto the top-10 list of the biggest sports betting wins in history.
He splashed $500,000 on the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 – which was somewhat surprising given that the Patriots were a 14-point underdog against the St Louis Rams.
But they delivered a win for the ages, downing the Rams 20-17 to secure their own slice of history and increase Barkley’s wealth to the tune of $800,000.
- Anonymous (Around $735,000)
Think you could down a parlay at odds of +68,373,800!?
It’s almost unimaginable, but that’s exactly what one punter from Malta did with their 19-leg soccer ticket, which needed a goal from Liverpool in the last three minutes to get it over the line.
- Darren Yates (Around $690,000)
When Frankie Dettori won all seven races at Royal Ascot back in 1996, it created a slice of sporting history that may never be matched.
And for Darren Yates, a punter who had wagered on the ‘magnificent seven’, it would be a day that changed his life forever – his $78 bet netting him the best part of $700,000.
- Phil Mickelson ($560,000)
With his place in golf’s hall of fame secured, Phil Mickelson has had plenty of attempts at trying to enter the upper echelon of sports betting too.
His finest day would come at Super Bowl XXXV, months after he and his syndicate partners had wagered $20,000 on the Baltimore Ravens to win the NFL’s flagship game.
They duly trounced the New York Giants 34-7, and ‘Lefty’ as he is known pocketed his share of the $560,000 loot.
- Mick Gibbs (Around $620,000)
We round out our top12 of the highest payouts in sports betting with another plucky parlay backer.
This time it was Mick Gibbs, a British roofer who laid down a huge 15-leg ticket at odds of +16,666,660 – wagering a princely $0.38 on the unlikely outcome.
And yetit was just to be his day, as every single one of his predictions came to pass,securing him one of the unlikeliest paydays in betting history.