How it feels to turn $30 into $30,000 with a 1,000/1 long-shot bet

Getty Images

How do you win a 1,001/1 long-shot bet in a Formula 1 race? Well, it involves Wikipedia, a plastic bag, and a racer who really wanted to protect his course record.  

Let’s rewind.

I get into work on Thursday morning at the Covers head office. I grab my coffee, sit down at my desk and within a few minutes, I’m chatting with Mike Poole. He’s a big F1 guy and he’s sitting at his computer, looking for some solid bets for this weekend’s race: the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I’ve got the bet,” Mike tells me. “Kevin Magnussen to record the fastest lap at 1,001/1.”

I chuckle and kind of laugh it off. I’ve never heard of Kevin Magnusson. It doesn’t help Mike’s case that when I look over at his computer, he’s reading an article on Wikipedia. The internet’s free encyclopedia generally isn’t a place I’d trust for handicapping information.

But Mike keeps talking and has a strong case for it. He tells me Magnussen recorded the fastest lap in 2018 and owns the course record for fastest lap. He set it last year.

Now my ears perk up: 1,001/1 odds for the guy who owns the record at this course. Now we’re onto something.

I ask how Magnussen is doing this year.

“Not well, he keeps getting penalized,” Mike tells me.

Well, that doesn’t matter for fastest lap.

I log onto one of the sportsbooks I use, MoPlay, and see him listed at 1,001/1. Alright, that’s worth $10. I bet it.

Then another co-worker says he sees Magnusson for fastest lap at even better odds at another site. I didn’t have an account at that sportsbook but I decided to check Bet365 to see its odds. Magnusson was also listed at 1,001/1. As it turns out, Bet365 had given me a $20 bet credit for being a loyal customer a day earlier.

“Ah, let’s go for a huge payout,” I said to Mike. So I throw the $20 bet credit on it, too.

Mike informs me the race will be on TV on Sunday morning. I tell him I won’t be watching but I expect him to text me and tell me I’m $30,000 richer. That would make for a great Sunday morning.

Saturday night rolls along and I get a text from Mike. He tells me Magnusson finished dead last in qualifying.

Mike Poole's text about Formula 1 betting

Sunday morning comes and I forget the race is even happening. In fact, I was outside washing my car while acting as the adult on duty as my three-year-old son and some of the other neighborhood kids ran around our cul-de-sac. Then my phone starts buzzing.

Mike Poole's text message about Formula 1 betting

At this point, I’m losing my shit. Then I’m thinking I’m going to lose this bet on the final lap. The bad beat of the century. Then I remember Mike telling me he always gets penalized, so I figure he’ll get DQ’d or something.

My wife comes outside to find me staring at my phone instead of watching the kids or washing the car. She starts to say something but I interrupt her.

“I think I just won $30,000,” I blurted out.

“What!?! OK, I’ll watch the kids,” she says.

Then Mike sends me this link:

It’s the smallest of consolations but on fresh tires and in clean air, @KevinMagnussen clocks the fastest lap of the race! 1:42.301 was the time. #HaasF1 #SingaporeGP

— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) September 22, 2019

Wow. It actually happened.

I spent the next 10 minutes or so refreshing the balances at MoPlay and Bet365. And then this:

Payout slips for fastest lap at the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix

There it is. The long shot of a lifetime actually hit.

I spent the rest of the day doing normal things — playing with the kids, going to a picnic lunch for my mom’s birthday, etc. I’m trying not to think about it much, but, of course, it’s the only thing I can think of. We finally get the kids to bed and my wife and I celebrate with a bottle of wine.

Monday morning rolls along and I get back to the office. By now, word has gotten around about the win and everyone in the office is talking about. At one point, someone asks me what lap it was that Magnusson recorded the fastest time. I realize I don’t have a clue how it actually happened. But Mike was watching and the story of how Magnusson held onto his fastest lap title is incredible.

About halfway through the race, Magnussen was coasting, bouncing back and forth between 12th and 15th place or so, and all of a sudden he charges up the standings with a few really quick laps. They weren’t quick enough for fastest lap as Charles LeClerc had put down an amazing lap time earlier, but Magnusson is now in the Top 10.

Then, at roughly lap 50-55 of 61 Magnussen takes a turn too wide and gets passed by a few drivers, bumping him out of the Top 10 with only a few laps remaining. At this point, Mike figures the bet is done.

Then, all of a sudden Magnussen takes a third pit stop. Now, something is up. Most racers only pit twice at Singapore. Mike notices that they switch him back over to soft tires. He also sacrificed about six positions in the standings.

Mike can’t believe what’s happening. He’s thinking that the only reason he’d pit a third time, go back to soft tires, and let others pass him is that he wants a shot at the fastest lap. Turns out, the pit stop was for a different reason altogether:

Frustration for @KevinMagnussen, who was in the points for much of today’s race.

Full quotes here 👉

— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) September 22, 2019

Yup. A plastic bag.

Magnusson gets back on the track and on laps 55-59, he’s falling further and further behind, as he is seemingly allowing drivers to pass him to open up the track. Then lap 60 hits. Only two laps to go. There’s the time-limit issue. With five laps remaining there were only 10 minutes left on the timer, so time is ticking. Magnusson might not even be allowed to finish these two laps.

Mike’s watching the television broadcast, which obviously isn’t focusing on the guy who’s now in dead last. The checkered flag drops and the TV broadcast starts showing the leaderboard. And what do you know… the pink stopwatch (denoting fastest lap) appears next to Kevin Magnusson’s name.

Kevin Magnusson pink stopwatch

Mike jumps out of his chair and starts flipping out. He’s yelling so loud that he woke up his wife, who was trying to get some sleep after working the night shift at the hospital. She thought something was wrong.

Mike tells her he just won a lot of money. She rolls her eyes, as it’s not uncommon for Mike to overreact. He tells her how much. Now she’s awake and listening intently.

As for my wife?

“We’re going to save most of that money, right?” she asks me as we’re sipping on our $12 bottle of red wine on Sunday evening.

“Yes, most of it,” I reply. “But how about we use some of it for a family trip to Mexico during the winter?”

Or, maybe Singapore?