On Sunday, Leicester City will face Manchester United in an English Premier League matchup that is attracting more attention than usual.
If Leicester wins, it would clinch the league title, even with two weeks left to go. This is a team that was so bad last year it was barely lucky enough to continue to play in the Premier League. It started the season with 5,000-1 odds in the U.K. to win the title, and now some gambling houses could be about to lose big time.
"By far this is the biggest future payout I've ever seen," said Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill's U.S. sports betting operations in Las Vegas. "The biggest I'd seen before this was maybe 300-to-1, and I've been working since 1989."
"In the U.K., they are estimating $20 million worth of losses," Bogdanovich added. "That's probably realistic because soccer is like their NFL, so everybody is betting on it." He made the point that in the U.S., every year people bet on football long shots like Tampa Bay, Oakland and Jacksonville. These die-hard fans just want to support their teams, even for a few bucks.
Last year, Leicester spent the majority of the season in last place out of 20 teams. Only a late-season rally kept them from finishing in the bottom three. Those three teams get relegated to a lower level — kicked out of the Premier League altogether.
In the offseason, its manager was fired, and the new one simply hoped the team could stay outside the bottom three again. Finishing 17th or better was the goal — certainly not winning it all.
The Foxes have never been a threat for the top of the league standings. They finished eighth in 2000 and then never again in the top 10. In fact, for a majority of the 21st century, they haven't even been good enough to be in the Premier League.