Every sports bettor has one or two “bad beats” that are forever burned in their thick skull — or in my unfortunate case, dozens of those. Look, no one ever said gambling was for the faint of heart, but then again, no one ever said the subterranean lows of betting can also feel like being the last kid picked for a game of P.E. dodgeball (trust me, I would know).
Nonetheless, one of my bad beats STILL remains fresh in my mind — despite the almost-six years of nightmares that’ve lapsed since. Writing has always been therapeutic for me, so perhaps sharing this all-time heartbreak will finally patch this punctured wound. Here it goes:
February 1, 2015 — Super Bowl XLIX
At last, I’m the legal betting age and of course, I want action on the holy grail of sports gambling, the Super Bowl. That season, the title game pitted the Patriots against the defending-champion Seahawks with the betting spread set a pick ’em.
Given my natural inclination to “go big or go home,” I make the fateful decision to mortgage my entire budget for the Spring semester on the wager. What the heck, right? I’m already gulping down ramen noodle soup on the reg anyway, if worse comes to worst, I’ll just stick to the script. No biggie.
Welp, I did just that. I scrapped my spring tuition savings of $2,000 (visual proof linked below) and let it ride on the “Legion of Boom.” As a long-time, tortured Dolphins fan, I could never bring myself to willingly root for the Patriots — and yes, I’m aware that’s DraftKings’ hometown team but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway, there’s probably no need for me to re-hash what happened next, but for my benefit of expunging this from the deep recesses of my psyche, I’ll do it anyway: Seattle led by 10 points half-way through the fourth quarter before its legendary defense was systematically picked apart by Tom Brady for two touchdowns in a six-minute span, only for Seattle to drive it down to New England’s one-yard line with under a minute to go and chance to win the ‘ship with a score. But right on cue given my patented history of not-so-lucky breaks, complete utter chaos ensued instead.
Alright, seconds before that game-sealing interception by Malcolm Butler (that’s been replayed over and over on ESPN, probably to spite me directly), let me describe my emotional state in two words — pure bliss. Here I am, one yard away from cashing in a ticket to win $1,800-plus (practically the lottery for a college kid like myself at the time) and in my head, running through every fiscally-irresponsible decision I’m about to make with this king’s ransom of a win (yes, “making it reign” as DraftKings likes to say, was tops on the agenda).
But no, Pete Carroll had to draw up a goal-line slant to Ricardo Lockette instead of handing the ball off to a battering-ram runner called Marshawn Lynch. And with that bonehead decision, I crumbled into pure despair. Following that heart-ripping ‘L, I composed myself and settled on these three options as an appropriate response:
a) chase the money I’d just flushed down at the nearest casino with a do-or-die game of roulette (I’m a bet everything on black kind of guy)
b) ring up my parents and drop the I-might-be-homeless-this-semester news
c) recoup the funds by joining an energy-drink-selling MLM scheme that was rampant at the University of Nevada at the time
Being the always-rational, never-illogical fella I was at the time, I chose option A. No question about it — I wasn’t going down without a fight, no way. But in a twisted turn of events, my ATM denied my withdrawal as I had reached my limit for the day.
And with that, I trekked home, head down and a bow wedged into my heart. That night, I layed wide-awake for hours as that interception lived rent-free in my head, playing on loop. The sun came up the next day (barely; it was an overcast day in Reno, Nevada) and I never quite ended up homeless that semester (but boy, was I close).
Regardless, this gut-wrenching loss has never left me. For better or worse, I’ve compartmentalized it. But after pouring my anguish in this blog, maybe, at last, I can rid myself of this burden. Maybe… if you’ve suffered a bad beat before and have found a coping mechanism that doesn’t involve binge drinking (excessively), please drop a comment below and help me out here!