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Mad props: 3 massive Super Bowl prop bet wins by bettors, 1 bad beat

Jay Kornegay was still getting VIPs settled into their seats at the Westgate SuperBook when the crowd erupted.

On the first play of the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl in 2014, the ball was snapped over Denver quarterback Peyton Manning’s head and went into the end zone for a safety.

“All of a sudden, I hear this eruption and look up and they’re chasing the ball out of the end zone,” said Kornegay, SuperBook vice president. “I was like, ‘Did that just happen?’ I knew it wasn’t good.

“That cost us a hefty six figures on the very first play of the game. The guys were so distraught, they wouldn’t even tell me how much it was over the phone. That was, by far, the biggest losing proposition we ever posted.”

Las Vegas sportsbooks took a collective seven-figure hit after paying out odds of about 9-1 on a safety, 14-1 on a safety in the first half and 60-1 on a safety to be the first score of the game.

“During the Super Bowl, you have so much recreational play, and anything that has high odds is very popular to those types of bettors,” Kornegay said. “When you can get something at 50-1 or 60-1, you’re going to take a lot of small tickets on those types of propositions, which have treated books very well over the years.

“But when it does happen, you’re going to take a punch to the gut, and that’s what happened when they snapped it over Manning’s head.”

Here are two other Super Bowl props on which bettors won big and one brutal bad beat.

Rapid return

Forget about the first play from scrimmage. Chuck Esposito will never forget the noise he heard moments after the Bears and Colts kicked off the 2007 Super Bowl. He was doing a final check at the Caesars Palace sportsbook when Chicago returner Devin Hester caught the ball at the 8-yard line.

“And it literally sounded like a jet was taking off from the book because the crowd started to erupt and get louder and louder and louder,” said Esposito, now the Red Rock Resort sportsbook director. “As I looked up, I see Hester making a move on the kicker and running down the sideline.”

Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to instantly cash countless tickets, including the popular defensive/special teams touchdown prop (at about +270), Hester to score the first touchdown of the game, and the first scoring play of the game to be a return touchdown, which pays 50-1 each on the Niners and Chiefs in Sunday’s game at Allegiant Stadium.

“There were a lot of props tied to him. As an industry, that may have been the biggest loss, and it was on the first play of the game,” Esposito said. “It was a huge loss. I think it approached seven figures industrywide.”

Right on the number

The 2019 Super Bowl was all but over when Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein lined up for a virtually meaningless 48-yard field goal with five seconds left and Los Angeles trailing the Patriots 13-3.

But the kick meant quite a lot to a bettor at the South Point sportsbook who wagered $250 at 400-1 odds that the Rams would score exactly three points.

When Greg “The Leg” missed wide left and Los Angeles lost 13-3, the bettor won $100,000.

A SuperBook bettor also won $100,000 after betting $1,000 on the Rams to score exactly three points at 100-1 odds.

Knees to the gut

Bettors who wagered on Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes to go over his rushing yards prop in the 2020 Super Bowl against the 49ers were counting their winnings when Kansas City went into the victory formation at the end of its 31-20 comeback win over San Francisco.

Mahomes had 44 rushing yards, which easily eclipsed the total that ranged from 30½ to 36½. But he lost 15 yards after taking three deep kneel-downs to help run out the clock. That left him with 29 rushing yards, turning Mahomes over bettors from winners to losers in one of the worst prop bad beats in Super Bowl history.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on X.

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