The great thrill in sports betting is the tossup between small but certain and unlikely but life-changing wins. The worse your odds of winning, the greater the payout if you do, which means that you can win big with even a small wager if the odds are long enough (and you are incredibly lucky).
This explains why bettors sometimes put their money on the least likely winner – sometimes a long shot and sometimes an educated guess. This courageous category of punter often has a soft spot for accumulator bets (also known as parlays) because these wagers generally present unthinkably long odds. The reason for this is that an accumulator is a single bet that connects more than one wager on various events and the bettor must correctly predict the outcomes of all of these events or, as they say, all bets are off. As such, it is in the parlays that sports betting history is made.
To get an idea of the kind of money you stand to make if you take a small chance on a long shot and win, take a look at our list of the biggest ever accumulator wins in ascending order:
Darren Yates: £550 823
In September 1996, seasoned mug punter, Darren Yates felt his luck change along with that of beleaguered jockey, Frankie Dettori. Against all (or, more precisely, 8 150 to 1) odds, Dettori won all seven of his races at the Ascot.
By accurately predicting what would be remembered in history as Dettori’s Magnificent Seven, Yates turned a £67.58 wager into £550 823.
Anonymous (Malta): £585 000
An anonymous bettor from a small village on the island of Malta struck gold in November 2011 with a 19-bet accumulator on a series of UK football games, ending with a winning goal in the final minutes of a Reds-Chelsea game.
The Maltese punter cashed out £585 000 off of a meagre 80p wager on 683 738/1 odds. It was a particularly dark weekend for UK bookmakers as scores of other bettors had also put their money on this unlikely outcome.
Anonymous (London): £625 000
Despite odds of 6 542 to 1, an anonymous Londoner hit the big time in November 2014 with a £100 parlay on eight Premier League football matches. Thanks to incredible foresight, uncanny luck or a bit of both, the bettor received £625 000 for his (or her) trouble.
Anonymous (Leicestershire): £823 000
Punting on the ponies turned out to be ridiculously lucrative for an unknown man from Leicestershire in the UK in April 2017. The British bettor placed a £19 accumulator wager on a series of five local meets and, despite 43 315/1 odds, took home a staggering £823 000 – the most recent major win to date the largest ever payout from the unfortunate bookmaker in question.
Fred Craggs: £1 Million
It’s doubtful that 60-year-old fertiliser salesman, Fred Craggs had any expectation of becoming a millionaire when he placed a 50p horseracing parlay on two million to one odds in February 2008… but that is exactly what happened!
To add more drama to this rags-to-riches tale, the Yorkshireman only found out about his 8-fold win when he returned to the bookmaker to place another bet.
Steve Whiteley: £1.45 Million
Finally, the biggest accumulator win in history went to Steve Whiteley, an unassuming plumber from Tawton in the UK, in March 2011. Whiteley cashed out a whopping £1.45 million win off just £2 on a 725 000/1 parlay on six winners on the Exeter Tote Jackpot for a series of horse races in the UK and Ireland.