When the NCAA tournament began, the Michigan State Spartans were a 50-1 bet to win it all. But despite such high odds, that didn’t stop Derek Stevens from dropping by the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino and placing a $20,000 bet on the Spartans to walk away with the championship.
Placing wagers is nothing new for Stevens who likes to stop by the sportsbook almost daily but this particular bet needed some extra attention. Placed back on Dec. 5, the bet was handled by sportsbook director Tony Miller who had to call his boss to approve it. Miller needed approval because the sportsbook does not normally accept bets that could lead to such a huge loss.
So why did his boss agree to the bet at the time? It was apparently because the Spartans had just lost their third game of the season, lowering their record to a mere 5-3.
And now here we are three months later and the Spartans are in the Final Four along with Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin.
Photo source: Instagram
Once Miller and his boss accepted the bet, they never thought that Michigan State could possibly pull it off. But now he’s understandably not so sure.
“In my nine years at this sportsbook, I never accepted a bet that could result in us paying $1 million,” said Miller. “The most I’ve ever seen won here was a $100,000 parlay.”
Stevens is not exactly a poor man. After all, he did place a $20,000 bet. And he also owns The D and Golden Gate hotels in downtown Las Vegas which surround the Golden Nugget. Stevens claims that he placed the bet as a fan even though he actually attended the University of Michigan.
“I bet $1,000 on an NFL game,” said Stevens. “I don’t do bets this big.”
Over the years, Stevens and Miller have become really good friends. But despite that friendship, watching the Final Four this weekend will be extremely awkward.
“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”
Stevens has his weekend planned starting with the game against Duke on Saturday. He will host a party at a sports bar named The D and will invite all Michigan State fans to show up sporting green and white jerseys. And if the Spartans win the championship, he promises to dish out some bonus cash.
“If I win, I’ll give some bonus money to my employees,” said Stevens. “I also want to give some money to the [Jerry] Tarkanian Basketball Academy, and the rest I will reinvest in my properties.”
As for Miller and the Golden Nugget, they will be watching just as closely. “I haven’t watched a Spartans game as closely as I’ve watched the last two,” said Miller.