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Hedging in gold: Running down Super Bowl LIV prop bets

The Big Game would not be complete without a gambling treatise. Then again, much of football would be blank, too.

How can anyone with this sense of style be denied a Super Bowl for so long? A tragedy.
Doug Murray—Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Gambling is a football construct. When it comes to the Super Bowl, it’s a cultural phenomenon. The tradition of the Super Bowl concerns gambling as much as every piece of colored confetti, every last drop of Gatorade, every multimillion dollar 30-second advertisement. The Super Bowl may yet go on without the prospect of scores of people betting money on the color of the liquid the players on the field are drinking, but it wouldn’t be the same. Gambling to the Super Bowl, for many, is like peanut butter to jelly, or Hall to Oates: The ideal complement, the perfect amplifier to the other in a mind-bending combination.

Aside from squares (where your buddy Jim insists “he’s finally going to win this year!”), prop bets take center stage for the Mecca of Gambling. They are the heart and soul of what many football-consuming human beings see in the fabric of a cultural event that often transcends the action on the field. The Super Bowl is the only American championship display where there are hordes of people who prioritize the “quality” of commercial-viewing (insane to me) and the wagers they make through prop bets before the game itself.

Nothing else in the Western Hemisphere could hold as much influence without referring to its main product like the Super Bowl. And prop bets have had quite the leading part to play in this dynamic.

I have never put tangible money on the line when it came to sports, let alone the Super Bowl. But I would be lying if I didn’t have a checklist of amusing and fun prop bets to run through during the course of the game. (I’m aware this isn’t gambling. I’m not about that action. Leave me alone.) It’s a great way to stay engaged, initially, even if you forget about it after the first five minutes of the proceedings.

My list of notable prop bets and predictions is constructed with such a mindset. (I’m not a junkie in this realm.) There’s less hardcore “Over/Under receiving yards for Player X?” and more “How many wardrobe malfunctions should be expected?”

This is a hand-picked selection lifted from various corners of the dark web and from folks who are Way Too Online.

American Airlines and Mastercard Present Demi Lovato at House of Blues Dallas Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Demi Lovato National Anthem length: Over/under two minutes

A timeless classic.

Only the most pretentious and self-obsessed entertainers would extend the “Star Spangled-Banner” past the hallowed two-minute mark. Get in, sing the song as intended, don’t overextend or hold any note to the point of awkwardness, get out. I get the sense Demi Lovato does not fit this description. She’s “Confident” enough.


Will any scoring drive take less time than it takes Lovato to sing the anthem?

I would never dare bet against the potential for a quick-strike offense with Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan present. If not a two-minute drill of any sort, some hapless corner will be grasping at air on a bomb or big touchdown run on Sunday night. Reliving the abject horror of Super Bowl LIII is not possible.


Coin toss: Heads or tails?

Screw it. We’re in a new decade and I’m feeling adventurous. Give me an American Eagle over George Washington’s gorgeous locks exactly five times out of 10.


Will the Golden Gate Bridge be shown during the television broadcast?

The San Francisco 49ers do not play in San Francisco like they used to. They play in Santa Clara, which is just outside another major city center in San Jose, and an hour away from San Francisco. FOX won’t hesitate to relish the history of somehow the only Bay Area city that exists in the public consciousness. It’s too good of a shot, I suppose.

That doesn’t make it right! Does anyone care about proper geography?! Damn it all.


Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Will Joe Buck or Troy Aikman reference “underdog” in regards to the odds?

If this were a matchup between a shoddy, upstart Wild Card Team and an undefeated squad (hello, 2007 Patriots!), “underdog” would be the driving story. As it stands, the Chiefs and 49ers appear to be very even in most respects, leaving FOX at a standstill when it comes to generating a hollow narrative out of thin air. A true shame.


Who will they mention first on the television broadcast?

Joe Montana

Jerry Rice

Steve Young

The 49ers are legacy franchise, and legacy franchises are always centered on the quarterback. Jerry Rice might be the greatest (or at least the most productive) professional football player ever, and the guys who threw the ball to him will still get first billing. Between the two, I’ll ride with Steve Young, only because he’s been more visible in the public than his friend/colleague/blood-rival.

Steve Young

Will a clip of the Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl IV be played?

Kansas City, like Chicago and Cleveland, is one of those heartland cities with a beloved football team that does not nothing but break the hearts of millions. A love-hate relationship that veers more on annoyance and frustration. The Chiefs have the arguable new face of the league in Patrick Mahomes, and haven’t played in a Super Bowl in half a century. Showing Hank Stram laughing maniacally and or Len Dawson smoking a cigar as tribute to the modern Chiefs is basic math.


Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Will the Patriots be mentioned during the television broadcast?

Let’s go to the tale of the tape.

A team that has been in five of the last eight Super Bowls is not involved. Check.

A former Patriot quarterback is a starter for one of the teams involved. Check.

Does the NFL love nothing more than having a good villain to root against? Yes.

New England has been too ingrained into the fabric of the league to not elicit one blurb on the broadcast. It’ll be Tom Brady, and it’ll be Joe Buck talking about how Jimmy Garoppolo is facing immense pressure to live up to Brady’s legacy, as he tries to generate a mentioned hollow narrative out of thin air.

No one can escape the Patriots.


Donald Trump tweets during the game: Over/under 59

59 is the average number of tweets the president has been sending out on a daily basis in January. Factor in the Super Bowl and the National Anthem, as well as commercials of political opponents that will assuredly air, and this seems like one of the easiest bets on this list. If it was over the course of the day, he might hit the century mark. But the distinction is during the game. While crazier things have happened, I highly doubt he sends 60 tweets in four hours.


Mike Bloomberg 2020 commercials: Over/under four

Bloomberg has spent roughly $280 million on his presidential campaign to this stage. It’s only. January. I imagine that spending spree has barely made a dent in his pocket. Oh well. It’s his money to light on fire. Only a fool would bet against Bloomberg taking the chance to plaster his face to a third of the American public.


Will Alex Rodriguez be shown during the halftime show?

Three letters could have never been typed so faster. There is no one Alex Rodriguez loves more than himself. No one. The only person that might come close to matching such affection is Jennifer Lopez. There will be some kind of ridiculous fiancee duet where Rodriguez attempts to sing or dance. The viewing public will be worse off for it, and the memes will be relentless. They’ll also be glorious.


First Jennifer Lopez song?

The Puerto Rican superstar entertainer has any number of hits she could choose to begin the festivities with. “On The Floor” and “Feelin’ So Good” would be solid appetizers, for two. This is a Super Bowl, though. She’s going to want the crowd to push decibel records. It’s “Let’s Get Loud” and the field.

“Let’s Get Loud”

First Shakira song?

As with her singing partner, you have to follow the trail Shakira’s left in the past. “Hips Don’t Lie” might be the singer’s most well-known song, but that’s not necessarily family friendly, at least to start. She’ll go with the upbeat romance, “Whenever, Wherever” and Miami will be better off for it.

“Whenever, Wherever”

Will there be cleavage shown during the halftime show?

We’re talking about Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, right? Not muted classical vocalists with contralto voices? Every outfit they wear will be revealing in some sense. Every single article of clothing.


Will there be an outfit malfunction during the halftime show?

The only way an outfit malfunction happens is if it was intended. The plight of Janet Jackson has put every performer on notice for 16 years. It will never happen again. The viral moment isn’t worth it in a world of viral moments and meta “Gotcha’s!”

Note: During the halftime show. The players and coaches are fair game!


Team to score first

I like the team with the better quarterback and coach to get on the board first. That is not Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan. Call me old-fashioned, whatever. I’m a pragmatist, first, an appreciator of Hawaiian shirts after.


Kansas City Chiefs Media Availability Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Total points: Over/under 54

There is no way a game featuring Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and Kyle Shanahan has less than this total. America is in store for a wonderful, Western, back-and-forth shootout, as the Super Bowl should be. Common sense prevails. So do fireworks.


Highest scoring quarter?

It might be the late night sugar rush I’m currently in the middle of, but I’m all-in on seeing an escalating barnburner. There will be a myriad of points throughout the night. Most of them will arrive in the final stanza, unfortunately at the cost of torturous misery of the greater northern California and northeast Missouri areas. Sorry?


Who will the MVP mention first after getting the award?



Coach or Coaches

Winning City



Due to a combination of censorship of personality and brotherhood, I find it hard to believe the MVP mentioning anyone but his teammates. The only exception would be Mahomes and his dad, but I doubt it. (I know Chicagoans would love if Garoppolo expressed his love for, uh, Naperville.) You’ve reached the top of the mountain. You’re going to appreciate and shout out the others who climbed up with you first. No one is that narcissistic. Well, maybe.


Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

What will the color of the Gatorade be that gets poured on the winning coach?


Lime Green/Yellow




Ever since I began to pay any mind to football, it’s confounding that players actually drink such a highly concentrated sugar cocktail in the midst of peak athletic competition. If it’s only marketing, whoever works at Gatorade must be rolling in the dough over this association. Bobby Boucher, who has always been in water’s rightful corner, weeps either way.


Robert wants to remind everyone that the best bet you can make is on yourself. That’s right. Believe in yourself. Or something.

Follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski. You can’t take a picture of this, it’s already gone.