Discovering Elvis Presley is alive, Barack Obama announcing that the moon landings were fake, Simon Cowell becoming the British Prime Minister, alien life being discovered before 2017, and Kim Kardashian becoming the next U.S. President — those are all scenarios that bookmakers said were more likely than Leicester City winning the 2015-16 Barclays Premier League title.
Odds of up to 5,000-1 on Leicester City being crowned champions of England were offered at the start of the Premier League season, odds we are unlikely to see again anytime soon, as British bookmakers are said to have lost in the region of £25 million after The Foxes did the unthinkable and guaranteed they will finish top of the league with only two games of the season remaining.
Leicester were crowned champions on May 2 after Tottenham Hotspur blew a two-goal lead away at London rivals Chelsea; only a Tottenham victory would have kept the title race open. It is an amazing story considering Leicester were in the third tier of English football in 2009, and were only promoted to the Premier League two seasons ago, narrowly avoiding relegation last season.
Several lucky punters have scooped prizes in excess of £100,000, with many more cashing out their bets in recent weeks as they looked to lock up a huge profit on the long shots. According to The Telegraph newspaper, a 20-year-old Leicester fan, Karishma Kapoor, won £10,000 from only a £2 bet, while an unnamed Warwickshire man accepted a £72,000 payout from his £50 bet from Ladbrokes in March, a bet that would have banked him £178,000 had his nerve held and he had not cashed out his bet.
A Ladbrokes spokesman, David Williams, said Leicester's triumphant season will change the face of British betting because odds of 5,000-1 will never be offered on a team winning the league, at least not at Ladbrokes. However, Fed Done, co-owner of Betfred, has authorized offering odds of 5,000-1 on newly promoted Burnley winning the 2016-17 Premier League title, a scenario that Betfair prices at 1,500-1.
Tonybet has gone out on a limb and is offering industry-leading odds of 200-1 on Leicester retaining the Premier League title in 2016-17 with the best odds anywhere else being around 40-1.
"Leicester winning the title was in the realms of the ridiculous, and it has cost us the biggest anti-post payout in our 130-year history," said Williams. "For a 5,000-1 shot to emerge as a winner is absolutely off the charts in betting terms. The longest odds on a Grand National winner were 100-1, England were 250-1 before they won the Ashes in 1981, and Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson as a 50-1 shot in 1990, so nothing else comes close.
"It means we will have to completely recalibrate how we approach betting on outsiders."
Williams revealed that 57 bettors took the 5,000-1 odds at Ladbrokes, and all but 21 had cashed out early for lower odds. The highest remaining bet was a £20 stake, which nets the winner a cool £100,000.