Leicester City’s incredible triumph this season hasn’t only added insult to injury for perennial Premier League bridesmaids Liverpool and Tottenham, it has also left bookmakers across England surveying the damage of an estimated £25 million in payouts.
Rated 5000/1 outsiders at the start of the season, Leicester City were widely tipped for relegation but a few brave souls – most of them diehard Leicester fans – took up the challenge with Ladbrokes taking a total of 47 bets at those odds and William Hill 25. Today they’re laughing all the way to the bank with one man now £100,000 richer after ambitiously placing £20 on the Foxes 10 months ago.
But they aren’t the only people who have won big thanks to the most unlikely of sporting results.
In 2001, a roofer from Staffordshire named Mick Gibbs bet a tiny 30 pence – around half of US$1 – on a 15-leg multi at odds of 1,666,666 to 1. Incredibly, he proceeded to correctly pick the winners of England’s top five football leagues, three Scottish divisions, the rugby union premiership and the county cricket championship. In typically nerve-wracking fashion, the final leg came down to a penalty shootout in the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Valencia but Gibbs prevailed to pocket a whopping £500,000!
Another football fan, Adrian Hayward, did his best Nostradamus impersonation when he put £200 on Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso to score a goal from inside his own half at some point during the 2005/06 season. Hayward had apparently dreamt it would happen and in early January of 2006 found himself £40,000 richer as Alonso struck a long range goal in an FA Cup tie against Luton Town.
One of the most famous winning bets of recent times was placed by none other than Gerry McIlroy – father of Irish golfer Rory. In 2004, when Rory was just 15 years old, Gerry found a bookmaker willing to offer odds of 500/1 for the youngster to win the British Open before he turned 26. Gerry laid down £200 and 10 years later found himself celebrating two wins as Rory lifted the trophy. McIlroy Snr collected £180,000 for that clever use of insider trading!
Perhaps the greatest story, however, is that of Darren Yates who was so confident in jockey Frankie Dettori’s abilities he backed him to ride the winner of all seven races on Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse in 1996. Dettori made history that day in one of the greatest sporting performances of all time while for just US$100 Yates pocketed a tidy US$860,000!