Michigan grad misses out on $1M payday with Villanova's NCAA championship win

Update: Michigan graduate Derek Stevens missed out on his $1 million payday with Villanova’s dominant win in Monday’s national championship game. But he can take solace after having the foresight to hedge his bet with $330,000 on Villanova.


Tilman Fertitta is a restaurant mogul and the billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets. In addition to owning Landry’s Inc., one of the largest restaurant groups in the United States, he runs the Golden Nugget group of hotels and casinos.

On Monday, he tweeted this:

Before the start of the NCAA tournament, Fertitta accepted a $25,000 futures bet on Michigan to win the championship at 40-1. That means if Michigan beats Villanova on Monday night, the Golden Nugget is on the hook for $1 million to Derek Stevens.

So who is Derek Stevens besides being a guy bold enough to put down $25,000 on a futures bet?

First, he’s a Michigan grad. He’s also in the casino business himself, the majority owner of the Golden Gate Casino and D Las Vegas Hotel Casino on Fremont Street in downtown Vegas. For those not familiar with Las Vegas, Fremont Street is the old-school, traditional scene in town that stands in contrast to the glitzier, more prominent Las Vegas Strip.

He told the Detroit Free Press that he and Fertitta talked for a while before Fertitta agreed to take the bet.

“He has been willing to take a couple of big bets over the years,” Stevens told the Free Press. “About a month (ago) I was talking to him and I said ‘I’d like to take a shot at winning a million.’ We went back and forth and he finally said ‘Yes, I’ll take it.'”

So Stevens isn’t just some dude off the street dropping multiple mortgage payments on his alma mater. And now that he’s gotten this far with the Wolverines, he’s making sure he’s not going away empty-handed.

On Monday, he tweeted that he’s hedging his bet to “make sure we come out cashing at least a little bit here.” The Twitter post included a video of himself and his crew carrying a box full of cash to the sportsbook at one of his own casinos, where he put $330,000 on the money line for Villanova.

For those uninitiated with sports betting, a money-line bet pays on whether a team wins or loses. No point spread is involved. The favorite and underdog have different payout structures with the underdog paying out at a higher rate. So if Villanova wins, Stevens wins his hedge bet. If Michigan wins, he gets the big prize of his $1 million payout from the Golden Nugget while losing his $330,000 hedge.

How this works with Stevens betting at his own casino, we’re not exactly sure.

Either way, it’s entertaining to see how the wealthy get their kicks.

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