Betting on Barack Obama

Barack Obama Betting Markets

Credit: Christopher Dilts –  Flickr

Barack Hussein Obama made history in 2009 when he became the first black President of the United States, and given the racial tension that still exists in the USA, and their history around this sort of thing, it was a moment that created a lot of questions too.

Progressives and the majority of the black community were thrilled with his victory, while there were no doubt plenty of racist folk who were less than enamoured with the idea of a black President.

Of course there will have been plenty of people in the middle too, who were either happy or unhappy about Obama’s inauguration based on nothing but what they thought of him as a man and a politician, but it was those on the extremities that were the chief concern.

Out of all of this, pone of the most contentious betting markets in recent history was born, widely reported as odds on Obama being assassinated before the end of his first term.

The idea that certain people would not be happy with a black President and might do something was not openly or widely discussed, but it was reported that some white supremacist groups were plotting an attack, and Hilary Clinton defended her decision to stay in the nomination race despite dwindling hope of becoming the democratic candidate by saying that she remembered Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in 1968. People took this to mean that she thought Obama might be assassinated before he even got a chance to run against the republican candidate, at which point she would be next in line; and this was way before the betting market became available.

Paddy Power Opens Betting Market on Obama Assassination?

Obama First Term Specials Betting Markets

The specifics of this market are important, because Paddy Power never explicitly said the market was about assassination, and indeed, when the story hit the news and they were challenged on it, they denied that connotation entirely.

The market in question was actually called:

“Barack Obama Not to Complete his First Term in Office”

What made it seem slightly sinister, however, was that it was offered alongside two other markets with more specific reasons: impeachment and resignation. Some thought that the vague nature of the 3rd market could only mean one thing, assassination, but without actually saying so directly.

It wasn’t a market that had been offered after previous presidential elections, and Obama’s campaign victory was arguably the biggest moment in American politics in several generations, largely because of his heritage, so you can understand why a lot of people took it the way they did.

After a lot of backlash, Paddy Power eventually removed the market, and what you can see in the image above is what took its’ place. People had been backing the market though, so much so that the odds were slashed from 16/1 to 12/1.

Interestingly, other bookmakers had been directly approached by punters looking for odds specifically on the chances of an assassination, so it was obviously a scenario that plenty of people had considered, and some even thought likely.

William Hill reported turning down over 100 punters who asked for odds on this nasty outcome – they had to issue a statement to stop others asking them the same question.

Punters who backed the market before it was removed by Paddy Power had their bets honoured, although happily it was not a bet that ever needed paying out.

Other Weird Obama Bets

Ok, these bets aren’t quite as odd as the assassination one, but they have some pretty weird selections included within them.

Of course, there were plenty of other more dull markets like the colour of Obama’s tie, who would design Michelle Obama’s dress, how long the inauguration speech would be, which country the President would visit first in an official capacity, that sort of thing.

Others were a little more tongue in cheek though.

Which Phrase Will Come First in Obama’s Speech?

Obama Speech Betting

This bet wasn’t on the first words out of the President’s mouth, but which of the following phrases would occur first at any point in his speech.

There were loads of them, so I won’t list them all, just a selection to give you an idea.

Given that inauguration speeches tend to be a good 20 minutes long a lot of the time, one of them was going to win, but as you can see, some where a little more probable than others:

  • Change has come – 8/1
  • As I stand here today – 12/1
  • Defining moment – 12/1
  • Let me be clear – 14/1
  • It won’t be easy – 18/1
  • Don’t get me wrong – 20/1
  • We’ll have to make hard choices – 25/1
  • In the words of JF Kennedy – 33/1
  • Disagree without being disagreeable – 66/1
  • An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind – 100/1
  • Let’s get ready to rumble – 250/1
  • Life is like a box of chocolates – 250/1
  • Always bet on black – 500/1

There is no information on how many people backed the selections in this market, but some of those odds looked decent to me. In fact, “I Stand here Today” was almost the very first thing he said.

His opening line was “My fellow citizens:  I stand here today humbled by the task before us” so he didn’t as ‘as’, which might have been a reason for Paddy Power not to pay out on those juicy 12/1 odds.

As it turned out, he didn’t say any of the other phrases on the list, so the bookie probably did alright on that market.

Shame really, because I can totally imagine Obama saying “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”, it would have been a great line to end on.

Who Will Play Barack in the Movie?

Obama Movie Betting Odds

We are still waiting for the Obama movie, and maybe it will never come, but back in 2009 the Irish bookie was already taking bets on who would be cast in the lead role.

Time has moved on so all of these are too old now, even the ones that were too ridiculous in the first place, but think back to how they looked in 2009, and see who you fancy off this list:

  • Will Smith – 6/4
  • Jamie Foxx – 5/2
  • Denzel Washington – 4/1
  • Eddie Murphy – 8/1
  • Cuba Gooding, Junior – 10/1
  • Wesley Snipes – 14/1
  • Dave Chappelle – 33/1
  • Samuel L. Jackson – 40/1
  • OJ Simpson – 100/1

Some of them are actually pretty good shouts if the movie was going to be made around that time, but most of them are not.

Wesley Snipes? Dave Chappelle? Samuel ‘Motherfu$%ing’ Jackson?

While there hasn’t been a movie about Obama as President, a film called ‘Southside With You’ came out in 2016, which was about Barack and Michelle’s meeting and first date. An actor called Parker Sawyers played Obama in that one.

Another movie called Barry came out in the same year, but again it was about Obama’s early years rather than his presidency, and a young actor named Devon Terrell took the titular role.

What Will Happen First Under President Obama?

Obama What Will Happen First Term Betting Markets

Image taken at a later date than odds shown in the list below.

As with the other markets in this section, there are some more sensible options here, in amongst some absolute micky takes.

The Israel Gaza market wasn’t exactly far fetched, while troops came out of Iraq in 2011 half way through Obama’s first term, and Bin Laden was, well, not captured, but taken out of the picture in the same year.

Same sex marriage was legalised during Obama’s time in office too, although that occurred during his second term, in 2015.

Here is the full list of betting options:

  • American led signed cease-fire agreement between Israel & Hamas – 4/6
  • Full Troop withdrawal from Iraq – 3/1
  • Capture of Osama Bin Laden – 8/1
  • Online Gambling legalised – 8/1
  • Full National recognition of Same Sex Marriage – 10/1
  • Full Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan – 12/1
  • Legalisation of Marijuana – 18/1
  • Constitution changed to allow the President to serve 3 or more full terms – 20/1
  • Total ban of Capital Punishment – 25/1
  • Moonwalk confirmed as a fake by Obama – 50/1
  • Complete ban on privately owned guns – 100/1
  • Discovery of Aliens on Mars – 500/1

That last one actually ties in with another weird bet type that has been covered on this website – Paddy Power love a market on the existence of little green men.

Maybe it’s something to do with their own green branding?