Jake Paul’s Claim Of $778M Fight Handle Draws Hoots From Skeptics

'He's dreaming,' says longtime bookmaker Johnny Avello of DraftKings
Jake Paul
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YouTuber Jake Paul, who is increasingly becoming part of the boxing world, made quite the claim about the amount of sports betting activity generated by his most recent fight against UFC great Tyron Woodley in Cleveland.

Paul claimed in a social media post that $778 million was wagered.

“Fun fact: $778 million dollars were bet on the fight last night,” Paul said concisely. He didn’t provide any context to his claim. It is worth noting that the state of Ohio doesn’t have any sportsbooks, so any serious betting done locally would have been through local bookies or offshore, illicit websites that allow people in Ohio to deposit and bet. There is also casual betting between friends, of course.

For some context, it was estimated by the American Gaming Association that $4.3 billion was bet on this year’s Super Bowl, a figure that includes regulated sportsbooks in the U.S., so-called social bets between friends, and all underground channels. If Paul was referring to a domestic handle, then his fight would have attracted 18% of the level of Super Bowl betting. Seem outlandish?

The figure was met with skepticism from many people online, but some apparently believed it. Surely many Paul diehard fans will, and that’s probably the point from Paul’s end.

One key person who doesn’t believe him is Johnny Avello, director of the DraftKings Sportsbook.

“He’s dreaming, that’s a huge number,” Avello said. “I don’t care if you take the global handle.”

Avello explained that DraftKings saw “some action” on Paul vs. Woodley on Aug. 29. He said the handle was “OK.” Avello added that it was “not comparable” to some of the fight game’s historic matchups in recent years, such as Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015.

Paul was a -190 favorite for his fight against Woodley.

It likely wasn’t that big of a fight outside of the U.S., as one would be hard-pressed to call Paul an international combat sports star. Surely people in Europe bet on it as well, and probably a bit in other parts of the world, but there’s no way, according to experts, that it was anywhere close to $778 million.

The fight was sponsored by Barstool Sportsbook.

A lie is a lie, but is this one OK?

Is Paul harming anyone by saying $778 million was bet? Probably not, but there could be young people who see that figure and consider investing in a sports betting stock, possibly Penn National Gaming, the casino operator behind the Barstool Sportsbook product. To be fair, Paul didn’t put a “$PENN” or anything like that next to the claim to try to pump up a stock based on the handle claim.

Paul recently invested a significant chunk of money into a so-called micro-betting company called Simplebet, so he does have a direct financial interest in the sports betting industry continuing to take off.

All that said, it was probably a no-brainer fib by Paul, who realizes that sports betting is a rapidly growing industry. People want to know what kind of betting there was on the fight, which was approved for legal wagers across the U.S. No official figure from regulated books will ever by made accessible to the public, so Paul suggested one. It filled the information void.

Credit to Paul here, as this article wouldn’t even be written had he not thrown out that figure.

It is perhaps notable you don’t hear the likes of a Conor McGregor, who Paul is interested in fighting at some point, throw out handle estimates for his fights. It seems fair to say that Paul, 24, is part of a generation that is more in-tune with the world of gambling and its promotion.

Who knows if Paul will continue to claim the $778 million figure, but it might not be the last time he makes such an embellishment. He’s trying to get bigger and bigger fights, apparently eyeing Jorge Masvidal of the UFC next, assuming the MMA promotion allows it.

Photo: Jasen Vinlove/USA Today

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