For our readers not in the U.K., allow us to answer a lot of the many questions you have right now in the form of an imaginary conversation.
Why am I reading an article about soccer, let alone about a team I have never heard of?
Because British soccer team Leicester—
Wait, where's Leicester? And I feel like I am probably pronouncing that incorrectly...?
Yes, you are. It's "Less-ster." And it's pretty much in the middle of England. It has a population of 330,000, which is about as many people who live in St. Louis.
OK, as you were.
Right, so Leicester City has completed the most unbelievable achievement in not just soccer, but team sports in general, perhaps ever.
Sounds hyperbolic. What is it?
Winning the Premier League, England's best soccer league. The same league that Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea are all currently in—behind Leicester City.
But isn't that, like, their job?
Well, yes. But nine months ago everyone thought it was impossible, including their manager. Think of it this way: Last season, Leicester City—nicknamed the Foxes—just avoided being relegated to the league below. When their new manager Claudio Ranieri joined the club he said he was going to aim for 40 points, just enough to avoid relegation, but…. Wait, are you sleeping?
This is unprecedented, international sports news! It's the underdog story redefined! David and Goliath if there was one David and 19 Goliaths!
OK! Calm down. Can you at least put it in terms I'll understand?
OK. At the beginning of the season, British bookmakers (those are companies who handle bets on pretty much everything—there are entirely different laws on this stuff in the U.K.) put the odds of Leicester City being named Premier League champions at 5,000-to-one. Currently, the Cleveland Browns (the Cleveland Browns!) have a 200-to-one shot of winning the next Super Bowl. The Arizona Coyotes had a 500-to-one chance of winning the NHL at the beginning of the season, and the Philadelphia Phillies currently have a 500-to-one shot of winning the World Series. In the NBA, the worst odds are held by the Philadelphia 76ers, who have a 306-to-one chance of making it to the Finals.
Right! Thank you. One of the most prominent British bookmakers is now down about $2.9 million because Leicester did indeed win and as the season has progressed, bookmakers got so concerned they started offering buyout options for bettors: as The New York Times has reported, one guy cashed out in March for £72,000. If he had waited until Leicester City pulled this off, he would have made more than three times that on his initial bet of £50.
This is a pretty crazy story!
It gets better though. In the U.K., you can bet on pretty much anything. Here are some other things with much better odds that Leicester City winning the Premier League this season. Nice talking with you!
- Hugh Hefner revealing he's a virgin, 1,000-to-one (source)
- Becoming a millionaire in the United States, 106-to-one (source)
- Simon Cowell becoming England's Prime Minister, 500-to-one (source)
- Queen Elizabeth having a Christmas number one single (in the U.K.), 1,000-to-one (source)
- Kim Kardashian becoming president of the United States, 2,000-to-one (source)
- Elvis found alive, 2,000-to-one (source)
- Obama saying 1959 moon landing was fake, 500-to-one (source)
- The Loch Ness monster being discovered in 2016, 500-to-one (source)
- Prince William and Kate Middleton having triplets in 2016, 1,000-to-one (source)
- Prince Harry marrying Cheryl Cole, 175-to-one, (source)
- Bono becoming the next Pope, 1,000-to-one (source)
- Getting an astronaut job at NASA, 2,000-to-one (source)
- Being born with an additional finger or toe, 500-to-one (source)
- Having 12 sons in a row without any daughters, 4,000-to-one (source)