Barstool’s Pain Is Bettors’ Gain As Arizona Bowl Is Canceled

Everybody who bet Barstool Sportsbook's parlay promo wins first leg after Boise, Central Michigan bail

After a roller-coaster year that saw him face well-publicized allegations of sexual misconduct, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy was poised to end 2021 on a high note. 

Back in July, the media brand announced that it had become the title sponsor of the Dec. 31 Arizona Bowl in Tucson, and that it had also secured the rights to broadcast the contest over its streaming platform. On game day, Portnoy — aka “El Presidente” — was set to provide commentary during the livestream of the matchup in Tucson, Arizona, between Boise State and Central Michigan.

But on Monday, both teams pulled out of the contest, which has now been canceled.

This whirlwind series of unfortunate events started when Boise said it could not play due to COVID issues within its program. This left Barstool — called “the most objectionable title sponsor in bowl game history” by USA TODAY — scrambling to find a replacement. Portnoy addressed it directly on Twitter by writing, “I suggest @WSUCougarFB does a poll of players whether they want to play in AZ bowl or Sun Bowl.”

Cougars refuse to be tempted by Tucson

Here, Portnoy was attempting to lure Washington State University away from the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. At the time, the Cougars were without an opponent due to Miami Florida’s own decision to pull out of the Sun Bowl due to COVID.

WSU didn’t take Portnoy’s bait. As Sports Illustrated reported, the Pac-12 school was set to receive more than 10 times the amount of money by competing in the Sun Bowl, which will be televised on CBS, than it would have by shifting its allegiance to the Arizona Bowl and Barstool’s online-only broadcast platform.

This dollar discrepancy likely wasn’t lost on Central Michigan, which, hours after Boise pulled out of the Arizona Bowl, announced that it had agreed to play WSU in the Sun Bowl instead. That forced the Arizona Bowl’s cancellation due to complete lack of competitors.

Barstool’s pain may wind up being sports bettors’ gain. Barstool handles marketing for Penn National Gaming of that company’s Barstool Sportsbook as a result of Penn National’s part-ownership of Barstool Sports, and Barstool is one of many legal U.S. sportsbooks that had to take down Arizona Bowl odds. The Barstool Sportsbook had advertised special Arizona Bowl betting promotions.

On Monday night, Portnoy announced that the aborted CMU-Boise matchup would be marked as a winner for anyone who picked either team as part of a three-game “AZ Bowl” promotional parlay that also includes the two national semifinal games, which are scheduled for New Year’s Eve.

As part of this promo, which a half-submerged Portnoy announced “from the Gulf of Mexico at a fabulous retreat that a lot of people can’t afford” on Dec. 20, first-time Barstool bettors with new deposits could wager 10 cents to win $1,000 if they hit all three legs.

As for the Sun Bowl, WSU opened as 7.5-point favorites over the Chippewas at FanDuel on Tuesday.

Photo: Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY


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