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Nover: Origin of the Super Bowl Prop Bet

In between Super Bowl proposition bets such as what color Beyonce's footwear will be and if Donald Trump's name will be mentioned during the broadcast there actually will be a football game played between Carolina and Denver on Sunday.

Just how did all of these hundreds of off-the-wall Super Bowl props start anyways? I can tell you because I witnessed it first-hand.

The year was 1996. Las Vegas sportsbooks ruled North America. Internet betting was just in its infancy. I was the sports gaming writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal at the time.

Super Bowl Props Were Just Game Related

There were Super Bowl props back then - but they just were related to the game. No cross-sport props or anything bizarre. Kirk Brooks was the sportsbook director of the Boardwalk Hotel and Casino, a small Coney Island style hotel on the Las Vegas Strip that no longer exists having been imploded in 2006.

Brooks wanted to do something that would increase his handle and make his property stand out. This was Super Bowl XXX. Dallas was a 13.5-point favorite against Pittsburgh. Brooks came up with this gem: Who would score more points on that Super Bowl Sunday, the Cowboys or Michael Jordan against the Phoenix Suns.

Cowboys vs mj Prop Not Unique For Today

That prop wouldn't stand out today, but at that time it drew huge attention because it was the first of its kind and Jordan was rumored to be a heavy gambler.

Unfortunately for Brooks, most of the publicity didn't go to his property. Jimmy Vaccaro, sportsbook director at the much larger and far more influential The Mirage hotel and casino, copied the prop and received much of the credit and media attention.

The Associated Press wrote a story about it quoting Vaccaro and Jordan, too.

The Cowboys defeated the Steelers, 27-17, but failed to cover. The Cowboys also lost the prop as Jordan scored 31 points that day.

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