As we enter the final week of 2021, let's review some of the wise, wild and outright weird wagers that stood out this year.
We begin in Carteret, New Jersey, where a 64-year-old bettor was sweating what could be the largest win of his betting career.
1. In the history of Caesars Sportsbook, 112 25-leg parlays have cashed. None of them, though, was anything like the 25-teamer Kevin LaRose hit on Dec. 11.
Typically, successful 25-leg parlays are loaded with giant money-line favorites that dramatically reduce the payouts. According to Caesars Sportsbook, the most a 25-team parlay has ever won was $3,400.
LaRose's 25-teamer paid $237,553.11 off a $25 bet. You can see the legs here.
The parlay featured 15 money-line bets -- 13 in college basketball, two in the NBA -- and 10 spread bets in college hoops. LaRose identified his teams in the morning but didn't place the bet until around 3 p.m.
"I don't watch this, because college basketball is nuts," LaRose, who works in construction in Carteret, told ESPN. "You could be down by 20 and win by 20. It's really wacky. That's why I don't like to watch it. I'd rather listen to some nice music and hang out, and I'll check the app every once in a while."
The parlay began with UCLA beating Marquette, survived a scare with Richmond overcoming a 17-point deficit to beat Toledo and eventually came down to a showdown between Wyoming (-8) and Utah Valley State.
After a day of construction work and sushi, LaRose settled down with his wife, Ann Marie, for the stretch run. The couple tracked the score online. Wyoming led by 12 at the half. Utah Valley State opened the second half with a 20-5 run to take the lead. But the Cowboys answered and maintained at least a 9-point lead in the final minutes en route to a 74-62 win.
"We had a bottle of wine ready," LaRose said. "We stayed up until 4:30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep anyway, bro. I put the [sportsbook] screen on, after we won the bet. It says, 'Congratulations, you won $237,000.' I took a picture of it with my phone. I'll keep that picture."
2. A bettor with FanDuel placed an $8, 12-leg parlay featuring each match result of the final day of the Ryder Cup in September. The unidentified bettor, who is based in Illinois, nailed every result, including both ties, as Team USA sealed the victory. The bettor won $966,290 off the $8 wager.
3. In Week 9 of the NFL season, a bettor with FanDuel correctly predicted the exact score on the Sunday night and Monday night games on a $1 parlay that paid $54,471. The bettor had the Cowboys to beat the Vikings 20-16 at odds of 270-1 and the Chiefs to defeat the Giants 20-17 at odds of 200-1.
4. On Sept. 27, a bettor with DraftKings hit a $0.10 16-leg soccer parlay at odds of +67,498,814. With the longest odds of any bet to win this year at DraftKings, the 10-cent parlay paid $67,498.91.
5. This summer, a bettor based in London hit a $15.50 six-leg parlay that featured two soccer matches in Euro 2020 and the outright winners in four of the week's golf tournaments. The odds? 90,396-1, according to Betfair, an online sportsbook and betting exchange in the United Kingdom, which paid out $1.36 million after Harris English won the Travelers Championship on the eighth hole of a playoff, the longest playoff in a PGA Tour event in the past nine years.
The legs of the parlay and odds were:
• Croatia to defeat Scotland (+140)
• England to defeat Czech Republic (-182)
• Steve Striker to win the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship (+500)
• Nelly Korda to win the KPMG Women's PGA Championship (+1,400)
• Viktor Hovland to win the BMW International Open (+650)
• Harris English to win the Travelers Championship (+3,500)
6. Speaking of golf, on Nov. 24, a bettor with the SuperBook in Las Vegas placed a $1,046 bet on Tiger Woods to win the 2022 Masters at 100-1. Woods has not played a PGA Tour event since suffering serious injuries in a car accident in February.
7. On the Wednesday before the first round of the PGA Championship, a bettor in New Jersey placed a $1,000 bet on Phil Mickelson to win the tournament with DraftKings at 300-1 odds. Mickelson defied the odds to win his sixth major title, and the bettor won a net $300,000.
8. In October, a bettor in Virginia with WynnBET decided to parlay the Dodgers to beat the Giants in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series with Northern Illinois to win the MAC championship game for $1,000 at +3,373 odds. The Dodgers beat the Giants 7-2, behind two home runs from Will Smith and another from Mookie Betts. One month later, Northern Illinois upset Kent State as a 4-point underdog in a 41-23 win in the MAC championship game, and the bettor in Virginia won $34,725.
9. On Dec. 6, a bettor with BetMGM placed a $257,267 wager that neither the Patriots nor Bills would score 40 or points in their Monday night game in Buffalo at -10,000 odds. Winds gusted to 40 mph, prompting the Patriots to attempt only three passes in a 14-10 win. The bettor won a net $2,573.
10. Eli Sawaged, a 29-year-old pharmacy technician in Colorado, hit a $10, 11-team parlay full of NCAA tournament underdogs to pull outright upsets, including 15-seed Oral Roberts over 2-seed Ohio State. Twelve-seed Oregon State upset 5-seed Oklahoma State to cap the parlay that, at 3,320-1, paid just over $33,000.
11. In mid-February, a bettor with BetMGM placed a $10,000 wager on the Washington Wizards to win the NBA title at 500-1 odds for a chance at $5 million. The Wizards were 9-17 at the time. They would rally to make the playoffs but lost in a first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
12. Nine bettors in New Jersey spotted a bookmaker's typo on a proposition wager on Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes offered by BetMGM. The sportsbook had intended to list odds on Mayfield and Mahomes each throwing for 300 or more yards in their playoff game between the Browns and Chiefs. However, the "3" was erroneously dropped from the odds, and nine bettors were able to pounce on the "yes" for a total of $10,500.
13. Touting his improved golf game, Charles Barkley said that he bet $100,000 on himself to finish in the top 70 in the American Century Championship celebrity tournament. Barkley said he got 8-1 on the wager. Barkley finished in a tie for 76th.
14. On June 2, a bettor with BetMGM won $1 million off a $400,000 money-line bet on the underdog Dallas Mavericks to beat the LA Clippers on June 2. Luka Doncic poured in 42 points, leading the Mavericks to a 105-100 victory as +250 underdogs.
15. On March 19, a bettor in Nevada placed a $30,000 bet on Shohei Ohtani to win American League MVP at 30-1 odds. Ohtani hit 46 home runs with 100 RBIs and also went 9-2 with 156 strikeouts as a starting pitcher. He was named MVP in November, costing Caesars Sportsbook a seven-figure loss on an awards market that generally doesn't attract significant betting interest.
16. Week 9 featured two big NFL upsets, and a bettor in Colorado nailed them both. Sportsbook MaximBet reported taking a pair of $8,000 money-line bets from the same bettor on the Broncos over the Cowboys and on the Jaguars over the Bills. Combined, the bettor won $86,400 when the Broncos and Jaguars pulled off outright upsets as double-digit underdogs.
17. A betting syndicate duped sportsbooks by taking advantage of a bookmaker's mistake on the over/under total in the WNBA All-Star Game in July. The total opened at 248.5 and dropped 53 points, closing at 195.5.
18. In late October, a 35-year-old small business owner from northern New Jersey placed a $1,000 bet on New York Jets quarterback Mike White to have the most passing yards of any quarterback in Week 8 at 125-1 odds. White passed for 405 yards, leading the underdog Jets to a 34-31 win over the favored Cincinnati Bengals. He finished with the most passing yards for the week, and the bettor won a net $125,000.
19. In Week 7, a bettor with PointsBet hit a $100 eight-leg, same-game parlay on Colts-49ers that paid $97,560.96.
The eight legs were:
• Colts money line
• Over 41.5
• Carson Wentz under 190.5 passing yards
• Jimmy Garoppolo under 198.5 passing yards
• Elijah Mitchell over 75 yards rushing
• Jonathan Taylor over 100 yards rushing
• Elijah Mitchell anytime touchdown
• Jonathan Taylor anytime touchdown.
20. A bettor with Caesars Sportsbook placed a $50,000 money-line bet on Gonzaga to beat Dixie State in the season opener on Nov. 9. Gonzaga won by 34 points, and the bettor won a net $714.30.
21. On Oct. 8, Caesars Sportsbook reported taking its largest college football bet of the season: a $569,738.60 three-team money-line parlay featuring three powerhouse favorites that would pay a net $105,656.
The legs were:
• Ohio State (-1,600) over Maryland
• Cincinnati (-7,000) over Temple
• Alabama (-1,000) over Texas A&M.
Ohio State and Cincinnati cruised to wins, but Alabama stumbled, losing to Texas A&M in its only defeat of the season.
Odds & Ends
Note: Stats entering final week of 2021, per ESPN Stats & Information.
• Favorites in NFL, NBA, college football and college basketball are a combined 3,571-3,468-121 (50.7%) against the spread.
• Biggest upset by point spread:
NFL: Jaguars (+15.5) over Bills in Week 9.
NBA: Rockets (+14) over Bucks on April 29.
CFB: Louisiana-Monroe (+32.5) over Liberty on Oct. 16.
CBB: Texas Southern (+23.5) over Florida on Dec. 6.
ESPN Stats & Information researcher Mackenzie Kraemer contributed to this article.