If you're the average American sports fan on Twitter, the words "Leicester City" are probably just some debris that have found their way onto your Twitter timeline here and there in the past couple of weeks, mostly as a result of retweets from friends or media members who follow soccer. You knew Leicester City had a team in England's Premier League, but you may not have known their whole story.
And then on Monday afternoon, they clinched the title for the Premier League, and their story moved to the front burner. As it turns out, Leicester City was not just an unlikely champion of the Premier League, but with only a handful of games to play last season, the team was unlikely even to remain in the Premier League.
From November 2014 through April 2015, Leicester City spent 140 days in dead last in the Premier League and were facing relegation (Premier League-speak for the wildly novel concept of a team's getting moved down to a lesser league if it finishes in the bottom group of teams, a would-be godsend to prevent tanking if it were used in the NBA). However, Leicester City won seven of their final nine games to finish 14th.
With zero history of success and a payroll that's paltry compared to the rest of the league, the Foxes entered this season as a 5,000-to-1 long shot to win the championship. On Monday afternoon, a 2-2 draw between Chelsea and Tottenham was enough to clinch the highly improbable championship for Leicester City.
Leicester City. Champions of England. pic.twitter.com/WRwfysTn2N— Leicester City (@LCFC) May 2, 2016
Many people will focus on the human stories of this team, its players, its effect on the city it plays in. Me? Well, what with the Foxes being a 5,000-to-1 shot, I choose to focus on the gambling stories that come along with such a massive long shot.
A William Hill spokesman recently said Leicester City's title will cost the bookmaker nearly $3 million, and it may cost bookmakers nearly $15 million across the United Kingdom. He also mentioned that in the future William Hill will no longer offer title odds higher than 1,000-1.
How long are 5,000-to-1 odds?
Well, when the Rockets were trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1 in their best-of-seven first round series, they were 1,000-to-1 shots to win the NBA championship. So the Foxes were five times as unlikely as the Rockets' winning the NBA title while trailing a team that won 73 games by a 3-1 margin.
The 1999 St. Louis Rams were the most unlikely Super Bowl champion in recent years, with unknown Kurt Warner taking the reins in the preseason. They were a 300-to-1 shot. So Leicester City was roughly 17 times more unlikely to win their league's title as a team with a guy who was bagging groceries the previous season as their quarterback was to win theirs.
Taking it outside the realm of sports, among the bets offered by William Hill at 5,000-to-1 odds at one point or another — Kim Kardashian being elected president of the United States, Barack Obama playing cricket for England and Elvis being found alive.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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