The Las Vegas Golden Knights are on the verge of completing one of the biggest sporting upsets in history after reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
The Golden Knights beat Nashville 2-1 in Game Five to claim the Western Conference title in their first NHL season, becoming the first expansion team across the four major U.S. leagues since the 1967-68 St Louis Blues to reach a championship series.
At the beginning of the season, Vegas was 500-1 to lift the Stanley Cup. It’s only four wins away from joining the pantheon of some of these great shocks in sporting history.
1913 – Donerail wins the Kentucky Derby (91-1)
In 62 starts throughout his racing career, Donerail won only 10, but one of those was the biggest upset winner in the history of the Derby. Going off at 91-1, Donerail was the surprise victor of a race in which the lead changed multiple times. Jockey Roscoe Goose kept his horse in touching distance of the pacesetters and as they turned into the stretch, Donerail slipped past Ten Point to win and set a track record in the process.
A $2 bet would have returned $185.
1969 – Jets win Super Bowl III (18-point underdog)
The first game to officially carry the “Super Bowl” name produced one of the greatest upsets in NFL history. The New York Jets went 11-3 in the AFL season but were 18-point underdogs going into the game, with many expecting the Baltimore Colts to claim a first national title after losing just once in the regular season.
The Jets, however, had other ideas and raced to a 13-0 lead after three quarters and held out for a 13-7 win, backing the words of quarterback Joe Namathm, who three days before the Super Bowl had brashly predicted his team would win.
1980 – Miracle on Ice (1,000-1)
In the words of ABC commentator Al Michaels: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” Michaels’ words will forever be itched in sports folklore, as will the feat accomplished by Team USA, which defeated the Soviet Union 3-2 at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
The youngest team in the tournament and in U.S. national team history, Team USA was made up largely of amateurs and were 1,000-1 to win the gold medal, yet succeed in stopping the four-time defending Olympic champions.
People often forget Team USA actually secured the gold medal by beating Finland—the format included a championship pool as opposed to a championship game—but the game against the Soviet Union went straight into the history books.
1990 – Buster knocks out Tyson (42-1)
“Iron Mike” Tyson arrived into the fight with a 37-0 record and was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, while James “Buster” Douglas had not fought for a title in three years and was a 42-1 underdog.
It did not matter, as the latter let punches fly from the opening bell, repeatedly targeting Tyson’s left eye with his right jab. With his eye swelling, Tyson floored his opponent in the eight, but Douglas got up after nine seconds and two rounds later landed a brutal uppercut that snapped Tyson’s head back.
A flurry of punches to the head followed as Tyson was knocked down for the first time in his career.
2016 - Leicester City wins Premier League (5,000-1)
In the 2014-15 season, Leicester City became only the third in Premier League history to escape relegation despite being bottom of the table at Christmas. A year later, they pulled off the greatest upset in the history of English football as they clinched only their third ever league title, despite lacking the financial clout of its more established rivals.
At the beginning of the season, Ladbrokes and William Hill had offered odds of 5,000-1 on Leicester to win the title and neither bookmakers had ever paid out such long odds. The Foxes’ triumph resulted in the largest payout in British sporting history, with total winnings of approximately $33.5 million.
2017 – Howard stuns UNLV (45-point underdog)
It might have just been a regular season game but the Bison’s win over UNLV remains the biggest upset in college football by point-spread standard. Howard, an FCS team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, entered the game as a 45-point underdog and went on to shock the Rebels 43-40 on the road, claiming their first ever win against an FBS team.
According to ESPN, bookies in Vegas did not offer a money line on the game—but some offshore books offered odds as long as 600-1 on the Bison.
2018 – UMBC beats Virginia (40-1)
Up until this year, number 16 seeds were 0-135 against the number one seeds in the history of the NCAA’s men basketball tournament. It was left to University of Maryland, Baltimore County to buck the trend, beating Virginia 74-54 in the first round, despite going into the game at 40-1.
Virginia was not just a number one seed either, it was the NCAA Tournament’s overall number one, but had no answers for UMBC.
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