Super Bowl LV betting recap: Multiple million dollar bets cash as Buccaneers upset Chiefs in 'most-bet Super Bowl to date'

Sam Cooper
·7-min read

Tom Brady did it again.

In his first season out of New England, Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a dominant effort. While Brady threw three touchdown passes to earn MVP honors and his seventh Super Bowl ring, the Buccaneers’ defense overwhelmed Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense in a 31-9 victory.

According to BetMGM, the game was the “most-bet Super Bowl to date.” When the matchup was first posted, money was flowing in on the Chiefs. The Chiefs opened as 3.5-point favorites but ended up at -3 by the time kickoff rolled around.

The game was close early, but Tampa Bay pulled away in the second quarter and never looked back, covering the spread easily.

In the early going, BetMGM received multiple six-figure bets on the Chiefs, but more and more money came in on Tampa Bay as the game neared. The final splits looked like this: 60% of the bets and 54% of the money were on the Chiefs.

There was a lot of sharp money on the Bucs. BetMGM had to pay out two of the biggest bets it received. One was a $2.3 million bet on Tampa Bay when the spread was 3.5. That bettor won $2 million. Another was a $1 million moneyline bet on the Bucs +135 that yielded a return of $1.35 million.

Another bettor won $300,000 after betting $345,000 on the Bucs +3.5 at -115 odds. There was also a bettor who wagered $275,000 on the Bucs +0.5 in the first quarter. That bet cashed when Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for an eight-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left in the quarter to give the Buccaneers a 7-3 lead.

Sportsbook was rooting for Chiefs

According to Jason Scott, BetMGM’s VP of Trading, the “ideal outcome” from the Super Bowl for the sportsbook would have been the Chiefs winning and covering the 3-point spread.

The level of sharp money on Tampa Bay undoubtedly played a role in that, but the public was all over the Chiefs once again. En route to a Super Bowl in 2019, the Chiefs went a sparkling 13-5-1 against the spread. The public consistently backed the Chiefs in 2020, but it did not pay off very often.

The Chiefs finally covered the spread against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC title game, breaking a nine-game losing streak ATS. Over that nine-game span, the Chiefs were 8-1 straight-up but just 0-8-1 against the number. Nonetheless, BetMGM received significant money on the Chiefs to repeat as Super Bowl champs.

Not long after the odds were posted, bets of $180,000, $115,000 and $110,000 came in on the Chiefs. All three lost, as did a $281,000 bet on the Chiefs -3 that came in last week.

The biggest losing bet at BetMGM was placed at BetMGM Nevada on Sunday: a whopping $2.5 million moneyline bet on the Chiefs -165. Had the Chiefs won, it would have paid out $1.5 million.

In the end, Scott said things came out “fairly balanced” for the sportsbook.

“Betting activity on the Super Bowl was at an all-time high, making it the most bet on Super Bowl to date,” Scott said. “The ideal outcome for BetMGM would have been for the Chiefs to win and cover. That said, the books were fairly balanced, with a lot of public action on the Chiefs, and the Buccaneers victory was a small win for the sportsbook.”

So if the bulk of the money went for the Chiefs, why were the books rooting for them? Well ...

Buccaneers future bets cash

Though the action on the game itself ended up being pretty balanced, BetMGM had twice as much liability attached to the Buccaneers as it did for the Chiefs with future bets.

The Buccaneers opened with 65-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, but those odds jumped to 16-to-1 once Brady agreed to sign with the team in March. Of all the Super Bowl futures action BetMGM received, 9% of the tickets and 11% of the handle was on the Buccaneers.

“We definitely don’t want the Buccaneers to win. They signed Tom Brady in the summer and everybody piled on. We wrote the most tickets on the Buccaneers, so there’s a big liability,” Jeff Stoneback, the Director of Trading for BetMGM, told Yahoo Sports last month.

To give those bettors a chance to cash those tickets in the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers had to win three straight road playoff games. They did just that, beating the Washington Football Team in the wild card round, the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game at Lambeau Field.

Super Bowl LV goes under

The average fan wants to see a high-scoring, entertaining Super Bowl. That was reflected in the betting splits as 62% of bettors and 57% of the money at BetMGM put their money on the over for Super Bowl LV.

The total opened up at 57.5, was 56.5 most of the week leading up to the Super Bowl and actually dipped down to 55.5 before kickoff. The sharp money was on the under, and those bettors ended up being right as only 40 points were scored. One bettor put down $205,000 on under 56.5 to win $186,363.65.

Under bettors were aided by multiple failed scoring opportunities. In the second quarter, the Bucs were stuffed on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line.

In the fourth quarter, the Chiefs turned it over on downs twice in Tampa Bay territory, including a trip into the red zone. Later in the fourth, Mahomes threw an interception in the end zone.

The Chiefs had their chances to put more points on the board, but Todd Bowles’ defense was up to the task and made under bettors very happy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White celebrates after after a tackle against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers inside linebacker Devin White celebrates after after a tackle against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Prop bets and more

  • Brady won the Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time in his illustrious career. Unsurprisingly, he was a popular selection for bettors. Brady’s MVP odds opened at +240 and closed at +190 as 20.1% of the MVP tickets and 20.5% of the handle were on Brady. One bettor put down $600 on Brady at +200 and won $1,200.

  • The BetMGM customer who put down $6,666 on heads for the coin toss won $6,349 thanks to the flip of a coin. Heads was the more popular choice among coin toss bettors, attracting 54% of the tickets and 58% of the handle.

  • There was some drama for those who bet on the Gatorade bath dumped on the winning coach. The CBS broadcast did not show Bruce Arians receiving the traditional Gatorade bath, so Twitter users were scrambling to find videos from fans in the crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Those videos showed that the Gatorade was blue, as did photos and videos that came out after the game. The odds for blue Gatorade were +800, and one bettor won $800 thanks to a $100 bet on blue. The betting favorite was orange at +140.

The top 10 most popular prop bets at BetMGM were:

  1. Which player will score the first touchdown?

  2. Super Bowl MVP

  3. Which player will score a touchdown?

  4. What will the first scoring play be?

  5. Winning margin

  6. Halftime/fulltime result

  7. Chiefs first touchdown scorer

  8. Rob Gronkowski to score and Tampa Bay to win

  9. Tampa Bay +3.5 and under 50.5 points

  10. Tampa Bay first touchdown scorer

Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: