This past weekend’s NASCAR competition was wild; first, rain pushed the Cup Series race from Saturday night to Sunday morning. NASCAR was able to run much of the crash-filled race before one final Big One took place just before a red flag for rain. When the checkered flag finally flew hours later, it was to a top 10 that no one could have expected. No one, of course, except the folks like Jason Fellenbaum, whose high-risk sports bets paid off big time to the tune of $70,000.
Fellenbaum is a mail carrier from Lancaster, PA with a wife and three children. He considers himself a regular but casual player of NASCAR Daily Fantasy, but he’s not a big-time bettor; a couple bucks here and there will do.
“I made that bet on Tuesday during my lunch break after looking at last year’s Daytona Summer race,” he said, referring to his ultimately successful $10 wager that Cody Ware, Landon Cassill, and B. J. McLeod would all finish in the top 10. “That race had a lot of carnage and the Nos. 77, 78, and 52 all finished top 10. So while it’s rare for lightning to strike twice, the opportunity at winning big was too enticing.
When I chatted with him on Sunday night, Fellenbaum was on vacation at a friend’s remote fishing cabin. He’d spent the day on the lake without access to television or WiFi and with spotty cell phone service. Missing the race wasn’t a big deal — after all, he said that he was “not at all” confident that he would end up winning anyhting.
“This was a negative EV bet,” he explained. “It’s going to lose most of the time, It’s a sucker bet.
“But sometimes negative EV is outweighed by opportunity bets for me. Was this an unlikely outcome? Yes. Could I afford to lose $10 for a chance at $70,000? Yes!”
When he came back from fishing Sunday afternoon, he found out about the red flag due to rain — and noticed a very unconventional top 10.
“I told everyone to just blow [my phone] up again if it actually finished in my favor,” he said. “A little while later, I started getting tons of tweets and messages and then checked the standings.”
His response? “My immediate reaction was to just laugh. It’s awesome and lucky for sure.”
He wasn’t the only person to hit it big. One podcaster posted a screenshot of a text message in which a listener made a $13.49 bet that Cody Ware, B. J. McLeod, Landon Cassill, and David Ragan would all finish in the top 10. That listener’s payout was $999,433.63.
Fellenbaum knows that a big chunk of his winnings are heading to the government in the form of a hefty tax, but he says that he and his wife will “figure out what makes the most sense to do with it. I’m sure we might splurge a bit, maybe a Disney vacation or something, but honestly, saving most of it and having some money on hand will be helpful. That’s kind of boring, but I’d bet on that happening.” Sometimes, though, boring is a good thing.