HOUSTON - In the midst of all the hype, sports bettors can sometimes forget that the Super Bowl is supposed to be fun.
Especially when there are 600 to 700 different ways to wager on the big game when you add up all those proposition bets – AKA props – released by sportsbooks around the globe.
Prop bets are not only an extremely popular market but they've become a very popular story each and every Super Bowl, and thanks to the imaginations of oddsmakers and sportsbooks online (Nevada books don’t offer the more zany props), football fans can not only get action down on the game itself but everything that surrounds Super Bowl: from the halftime show to the broadcast team to the postgame celebration. Super Bowl betting cannot be confined to just the kickoff and final whistle.
With that in mind, let’s dive into some of the more bizarre betting options on the board as the Super Bowl hype heats up. You don’t have to have money down on these props to enjoy them, but it’s a lot more fun if you do…
Sing for your supper
The national anthem is one prop bet that cashes in well before the two teams take the field. Country singer Luke Bryan has been handed the “Star-Spangled Banner” duties for Super Bowl LI and an Over/Under of 120.5 seconds (Over -200/Under +155). That means anyone with a YouTube clip of him singing the national anthem, be prepared for an uptick in views. It’s just us, the degenerates.
I timed three of those occasions in which Bryan belted out the national anthem and found varying results. First was a concert in Virginia Beach in June 2016, in which he sang for 1:55.85 (116 seconds). Second was the MLB All-Star Game in 2012, which lasted 2:03.46 (123 seconds). Third was an opening concert at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota this summer, in which Bryan took the national anthem 2:28.88 (149 seconds).
There are more versions out there if you want to hunt them down and blow the dust off that stopwatch app on your phone, but what you’ll find are contrasting lengths which should make this prop very difficult to pin down.
Last year, Lady Gaga (more on her later) sang the national anthem at a time of 129 seconds, which went Over the 120.5-second total set by sportsbooks. The year before, at Super Bowl XLIX, Frozen star Idina Menzel put up a time of 124 seconds for the “Star-Spangled Banner”, also going Over the total of 122.5 seconds.
One other thing you should know when betting the national anthem length: there's no official timing and a boat-load of controversy surrounds this offering. Books grade this on their own stopwatch and have the final say, so bettor beware.
Let’s not forget Super Bowl XLV when Christina Aguilera muffed the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner” and also added a “Wooo” at the end, which some books factored into the time and others did not. Those bettors who wagered the Under got shafted and took to social media to blast their bookie. The lesson here is maybe “don’t bet on things like the national anthem”, but where’s the fun in that?
Luck be a Lady Gaga tonight!
Pepsi announced that its Super Bowl halftime performer would be Lady Gaga back in September and oddsmakers have been drooling over the prop potential ever since. Some books posted odds on the halftime show before the conference championships were even in the bag - that’s how badly they wanted to get these odds to the masses. And they haven’t disappointed.
Among the more colorful Lady Gaga props available are “What will she wear?” (with options like wings +500, a tail +700, an “I Voted Hillary” t-shirt +1,200, or absolutely nothing at a whopping +10,000) and “Will she’s suffer a wardrobe malfunction?”, which is giving the Yes a +500 payout. It’s been 13 years since we all saw Janet Jackson’s boob, so maybe this prop is due.
Other halftime props include “Which artists will Lady Gaga cover?” (with recently-departed greats David Bowie +200 and Prince +250 leading the pack) and “Which song will she sing first?”, which has Bad Romance set as a -115 favorite.
We’ve seen past halftime show acts lead with a newer offering rather than go right to the classics. Coldplay, while it did sing a verse from Yellow opened with Viva la Vida. Katy Perry opened with Roar and Bruno Mars sang Locked Out Of Heaven (after a choir sang Billionaire). Not their biggest hit but one that would help boost record sales of recent albums.
Lady Gaga’s set lists are tough to gauge since she does plenty of smaller venues and short appearances. Her most recent full-length concert, at the Encore Theatre in Vegas on December 30, opened with a cover of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered but then jumped right into Million Reasons (+165 among the field), which has opened most of her shows since the fall.
Million Reasons is a little slow out of the gates, so perhaps there’s better value in something like The Edge of Glory +900. It’s not too old, not too new, and is just the right amount of tempo and meaning to kick off the Super Bowl halftime show. And with Lady Gaga reportedly asking to sing on the roof of NRG Stadium in Houston (where she would likely open her set), there could very well be a literal “Edge” involved when singing this song.
The Trump Bowl
Welcome to the first Super Bowl in Donald Trump’s America.
While we were all hoping The Donald would rush gaming legalization to the table and open Super Bowl betting to the masses as soon as he got into office, there are plenty of ways the new Commander In Chief can impact the outcome of the betting markets – such as tweet his Trumping ass off during the game.
President Trump’s weapon of choice has an Over/Under of five tweets during the game, which will be counted from kickoff to final whistle, with the Over set as a -150 favorite and Under going off at +120. And the Trump fun doesn’t stop there.
You can wager on if Lady Gaga will say the words “president” or “Trump” during her halftime performance (this one has conflicting odds at different books, with Yes as a favorite and underdog), if Trump will attend the game in person (Yes +200/No -300), and if Tom Brady will sport a “Make America Great Again” cap immediate after the game (Yes +25,000).
Jeez, if you didn’t like Brady to start, this one isn’t going to help.
Bet the broadcast
There’s a lot more to the Super Bowl broadcast than just calling the passes and tackles on the turf, and the bevy of non-game related prop betting options for Super Bowl LI proves that. One of the favorite aspects of the Big Game are the commercials, which cost about $5 million for a 30-second spot. The NFL shouldn’t be the only ones making money off advertisers on Super Sunday.
You can find odds on whether Houston Rockets guard James Harden will appear in a commercial, as he did last year for Taco Bell (Yes -250/No +185) or how many commercials former quarterback Peyton Manning will star in, with the Over/Under at 1.5 (Over +120/Under -150).
Coming back from the break, football fans tuning into the Fox Sports presentation can get some coin down on whether commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will mention former Falcons QB and dog fighter Michael Vick (Yes +200/No -300) or former Patriots tight end and convicted murder Aaron Hernandez (Yes +190/No -260). Odds are also open on the number of times “DeflateGate" is mentioned (O/U 2.5) and if the announce crew will make note of the pointspread or total (Yes Even/No -130) – which is something the NFL frowns upon. Trust us.
And you couldn’t have the Patriots in the Super Bowl without hoping to catch a glimpse of Mrs. Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who has an Over/Under for appearances during the broadcast at 1.5 (Over -120/Under -110).
Last year’s Super Bowl 50 broadcast drew 111.9 million viewers when the Broncos and Panthers battled for the Lombardi Trophy – the third largest Big Game audience. This time around, oddsmakers are calling for a jump in viewership with the Over/Under on total viewers (according to Nielsen Ratings) at 117.5 (Over -140/Under +110). Those savvy TV heads can also bet on the Nielsen Rating for Super Bowl LI, which has an O/U of 48.5.
A couple years back, we put in work when it came to this prop, taking a good chunk of a work day to seriously handicap the “Color of the Gatorade bath” reserved for the winning coach. We had to dig into some old videos, image feeds and archives, getting 14 years’ worth of history on the celebratory soaking.
Super Bowl 50 finished with an orange Gatorade bath for Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, which was the oddmakers' favorite color at +150. The previous February, Super Bowl XLIX saw a rain of blue thirst quencher pour on Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his staff as they group hugged following Malcolm Butler’s goal line interception. That gave prop bettors a nice payday at +750 if they bet on blue as the color. Not only was that a long shot in terms of color odds but it was the first time in 15 Super Bowls that blue Gatorade was the weapon of choice.
Looking back to 2000, here’s a brief history of Super Bowl Gatorade baths: Broncos dump orange Gatorade on Kubiak in 2016, Belichick gets a blue bath in 2015, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll got an orange Gatorade bath following Seattle’s Super Bowl blowout over the Broncos in 2014. The year before, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh got two baths – one water/clear and one orange. In 2012, Giants’ Tom Coughlin was drenched with water. In 2011, Packers coach Mike McCarthy got the orange crush. 2010: Saints’ Sean Payton got orange. 2009: Steelers’ Mike Tomlin got yellow. 2008: Coughlin got water again. 2007: Colts coach Tony Dungy gets water. 2006: Tomlin got yellow. 2005: Belichick got water. 2004: Belichick avoided the bath. 2003: Bucs coach Jon Gruden gets water. 2002: Belchick no bath. 2001: Ravens’ Brian Billick gets water. 2000: Rams’ Dick Vermeil didn’t get a bath.
If you’re keeping score at home: Water x 7, Orange x 5, Yellow x 2, Blue x 1, and 3 bone-dry coaches.
If you're betting on Atlanta to stun New England in the Super Bowl, perhaps couple that wager with a bet on the possible bath for head coach Dan Quinn. He was doused with yellow Gatorade when the Falcons won the NFC Championship, which could give some insight into this wet and wild prop.
Heading into Super Bowl LI, water/clear is a +220 favorite, followed by blue +300, yellow +350, red +350, orange +450, green +1,250, and no bath at +2,500.
We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to Super Bowl novelty props and with more than a week before the game, oddsmakers are going to get even more creative with their offerings. Here are a couple more highlights on the prop betting board as we close in on kickoff:
• “What will be the largest bet placed by Floyd Mayweather on the Super Bowl?” No Bet +110, 0-$100,000 +250, $100,001-$250,000 +175, etc: “Money” Mayweather is infamous for posting his gambling winnings on Instagram, which just seems to piss people off. As one Twitter commenter said to Covers, “Why doesn’t he post his losers?”. To which we replied, “When you’re worth $340 million, are there really any ‘losers’?”.
• “Will a streaker enter the field during the game?” Yes +1,000: We’ve seen some great field-crashing runs this football season, most of which were narrated eloquently by Kevin Harlan. However, those dudes left their clothes on. Security is pretty drum tight at these things but we may have found our next Covers marketing spend. It basically pays for itself if we take a limit play on ‘Yes’ at 10/1.
• “Will Tom Brady announce his retirement immediately after Super Bowl?”. Yes +250: For Patriots fans, it’s scary how low these odds are. According to this prop (which doesn’t offer a ‘No’ option), odds of Brady hanging them up right after the game are about the same odds as Atlanta scoring a touchdown first.
Editor's note: This story was written by Jason Logan for Covers.com, a sister site also owned by Tribune. Odds provided by SportsInteraction.com, Bookmaker.eu, TopBet.eu.