The Art of the Super Bowl Proposition Bet

Baseball has long worn the moniker of America’s National Pastime. But in recent years, the NFL has supplanted it as America’s National Passion and nowhere is that more evident than in the substantial money Americans wager on each week’s slate of games.

Billions of dollars flow into casinos and online sportsbooks, and an estimated 35 million Americans play “fantasy football,” where even more money changes hands.

There is no single day on the American sports calendar as celebrated like Super Bowl Sunday when that season’s Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the NFL champions. The gambling on the game is also taken to the max, with more than $4 billion in wagers on a single event. Anything and everything about the game is open for wagers.

Even before the Super Bowl opponents are decided, there are props on the board. These include:

Commercial Props

  • Over/Under on the number of total commercials during the Super Bowl
  • Which soda commercial will appear first? (Coke or variants, Pepsi or variants)
  • Which beer commercial will appear first? (Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Budweiser, Busch)

Halftime Show Props

  • How many songs will be played?
  • Will (insert musician) make an appearance during the halftime show?
  • Will the lead singer be wearing a hat to start the show?

Game Props

  • Will any player be ejected for throwing a punch or fighting?
  • Will either team not punt during the game?
  • Will either kicker hit the upright or crossbar?
  • Will a non-quarterback throw a touchdown pass?

Miscellaneous Props

  • Will the winning team visit the White House?
  • Will any player take a knee during the national anthem?
  • Will a fan run onto the field during the game?

Of course, the majority of proposition bets don’t go on the board until after the AFC and NFC Championship games are played two weeks before the Super Bowl.

That’s when we find out which teams and players will be participating, and revealing the entire laundry list of prop bets. These include:

  • Coin toss (heads or tails)
  • Will the choosing team win the coin toss?
  • How long will the national anthem take? (Tip: the average is 1:58 over the last 12 years)
  • Team to score first
  • Player to score first
  • Will the first score be a pass, run, FG, special teams TD, safety, or defensive TD?
  • Will there be an onside kick?
  • Will any quarterback throw for 400 or more yards?
  • Will there be a flea flicker attempted during the game?
  • Will the team that scores first win?
  • Will the team that scores last win?
  • Team to record most first downs
  • Team to gain most yards
  • Total number of touchdowns
  • Longest touchdown
  • Shortest touchdown
  • Who will win MVP?
  • Who will the MVP mention first in his speech?
  • What color of Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach?

There are also series props broken down for each position and the individual players at those positions.

For quarterbacks, you can wager on yards, attempts, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, and rushing yards.

For running backs, the props are rushing yards, total yards, carries, and touchdowns. Receiving props are yards, catches, and touchdowns.

There are even some cross-sport props on the board. In 2018, you could bet on which number would be higher – the total points scored in the Super Bowl or the number of medals won by the U.S. Winter Olympic team.

There was also a prop that asked which would be greater – the longest touchdown in the Super Bowl or the total number of points, rebounds, and assists by Russell Westbrook in his game against the Lakers.

When the Panthers were in the Super Bowl, you could bet on the number of times Cam Newton did his open shirt Superman motion.

Other props have asked if the winning quarterback would announce his retirement after the game or if the scorer of the first touchdown would give the ball to a boy or girl in the stands.

Not only is the Super Bowl the grandest spectacle of all sports; with a pregame show that lasts roughly three times longer than the game, it is the biggest and most bizarre betting day on the calendar. That is why gamblers across the world love it, look forward to it and make their vacation plans around it.