Auburn fan loses 50K payday

With $50,000 on the line, Auburn fan Mark Skiba stuck with his heart and refused to hedge his bet.

Last January, Skiba's father was on vacation in Las Vegas when he placed a $100 bet for his son on Auburn to win the title game at 500-to-1 odds. The team's thrilling finishes against Georgia and Alabama, and a loss by Ohio State to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, resulted in the Tigers landing in Pasadena opposite the top-ranked Seminoles.

Skiba's $100 bet would have turned into a possible $50,000 if the Tigers won the VIZIO BCS National Championship. But Auburn lost to Florida State 34-31 in the closing seconds, rendering Skiba's betting slip worthless.

When Skiba went public with his ticket last month, many fans contacted him on Twitter to offer advice. Most told Skiba that if they were him, they would place a sizable bet against Auburn to guarantee a payday.

Skiba had planned on doing exactly that. But as Monday's game approached, he backed off. With Florida State becoming more and more of a favorite, it meant that Skiba would have to bet even more money against Auburn to balance out the action.

So after consulting with his high school buddy, accountant Brian Burnett, who is an Alabama alum, the two made the trip to Las Vegas for the game but decided to let the bet ride.

"I regret nothing," Skiba said after the game. "At the end if the day, I was playing with house money for the last two months. This was not supposed to happen in so many ways. It's the whole experience and the story. That's what I will remember.

"It was a bit of a life-changing experience just from the exposure standpoint and tonight it definitely peaked."

Others told Skiba that if he placed a bet on Florida State to win the game, he'd be jinxing his team.

"I heard from a lot of Auburn fans," said Skiba, 39, who lives in Alabama and works for a medical software company. "Some of them said, 'You've come this far, you going to give up now?'"

Skiba said, eventually, he felt weird about betting against his team.

"At the end of the day, I want us to win the game," Skiba said. "We're playing for the damn national championship. Winning the money still doesn't even seem real."

Skiba said he'd wear the same orange shirt and blue blazer he wore when Auburn won the title three years ago, when he said he won $1,000 on a $10 bet he placed at 100-to-1 odds.

Skiba wasn't the only one in his family to lose out Monday. His father revealed on Christmas that he, too, had placed a bet, though he didn't have as much faith as his son. His $10 bet would have made him $5,000 richer if Auburn had won.