As the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots step out onto the field for Super Bowl XLIX, millions, if not billions, of dollars will be wagered on the outcome of the game. Laying a few bucks down on a team is a tradition as entrenched as the game itself. Teams can be scouted, games can be handicapped, there almost seems to be skill involved with a really good sports bet. While that may be enough for some, others look for a different rush. The rush that comes from knowing that the outcome is completely random, unknowable, and pure. These people bet on whether or not Idina Menzel will forget a word during the National Anthem. These people bet on the prop bets.
Proposition, or prop, bets are bets based on an occurrence that has nothing to do with how the game ends up. For example, this year, the discerning gambler can lay their hard-earned money (Or bitcoin. Bitcoin have found a good home in online casinos) on whether or not Marshawn Lynch will grab his crotch after scoring a touchdown in the game. One of the highlights of every Super Bowl is the National Anthem, and this year will be no exception. Idina Menzel, star of Frozen, will be performing. The Anthem is also a perennial focus of prop bets. This year, people can bet on how much time Menzel will take singing the Anthem, or whether or not she will forget or add any words. Of course, the Super Bowl Halftime Show is a big deal, and this year’s singer, Katy Perry, offers many opportunities to make a bet. Lines on how many mentions Perry will get in the first half by the games announcers, or what color her hair will be, or even what songs she will sing are all set up for those who care to take a guess. Those viewers emotionally invested in Deflategate can financially invest too, with wagers on how many times deflated balls are mentioned during the game.
The fact that there are so many bets surrounding the singing that happens at the Super Bowl should not make people think that the prop bets ignore the game itself. Oh, no. A person betting can throw a few shekels down on the total number of points at halftime, or the color of Bill Belichick’s sweatshirt. If someone has a good feeling about the flavor of Gatorade the winning team will dump on their coach, well, they can bet on that.
The TV presentation of the game is even up for grabs. Announcer Al Michaels is the subject of several. Will he mention the point spread, or any prop bets? A gambler can gamble on Michaels’ mentions of gambling. Or, for those with an eye for beauty, they can bet on how many times Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, will be featured on-screen. In the world of Super Bowl prop bets, no detail is too small. The prop bets for the Super Bowl focus on the minutiae of the game, but the overblown spectacle of the game lends itself to that kind of focus, and for those whose team is not playing, it may be the only focus that will be any fun.
By Bryan Levy