“Hi Ben, I’m Floyd.”
This is how my interview on sports betting begins with arguably the greatest boxer of all time.
As we settle in, Floyd Mayweather pauses and looks exasperated.
“Hold on a sec,” he tells me. “I gotta take care of something.”
Making a quick phone call, he seamlessly transfers $100,000 into a different bank account. “I’m making a bet today,” he says. “I love to bet.”
Here’s my Q&A with Mayweather, in which he discusses how he began betting, his Super Bowl LI pick, if betting should be legalized and where he watches the games when he’s betting in Vegas.
How did you get into sports betting?
It started when I was a kid, when you and a friend can’t agree on something. You’re always competing against one another, always watching sports, it was little small betting. Like you’d bet lunch, dinner, when you’re a kid. Or a candy bar or a bag of chips. But when you get a little bit older, a teenager, I bet you a dollar, two dollars. And then once you get to the big-boy league, you become an adult, you get to sportsbook betting and that’s how it all started for me.
Then you can bet a couple of hundred-thousand dollars on a game. Little different …
Is the NFL the sport you like to bet the most because of the high limits?
I bet basketball, both college and NBA, college football and pro football. Not everything, but pretty much.
Have you ever had your limits cut at a sportsbook?
Sometimes. Twice this year I got there a little late to put the bet in and they said it was too late to put the bet in. I said, ‘Yo, the game didn’t start yet.’ But I was glad because those bets I probably would’ve lost $100K.
If you’re in Vegas, where are you watching the games when you have big bets on them?
Well, I’m one of the biggest sportsbook bettors in Las Vegas. So with that being said, they gave me my own room with TVs. It’s the TMT room. And then also in VIP in the sportsbook is only for The Money Team. We’re the only ones who can sit there.
You mentioned the Oakland Raiders on First Take and why you didn’t want them in Vegas. Can you elaborate?
I’m not saying I don’t want the Raiders. But if the players come to Las Vegas, they’re going to bet. You can’t get that out of your system once you learn it. A close friend of mine told me he was going to stop betting. Yeah, he stopped for four months, but it’s in him. He’s gotta bet.
There’s been momentum toward having sports betting legalized. Do you think it should be legal in the U.S.?
The two best places to bet are Las Vegas and Atlantic City. [Mayweather asks if A.C. has sports betting and I tell him it doesn’t.] Then Las Vegas is the best. We the best. If everyone had it, it would be a problem. Las Vegas is the best place because we have it mastered.
Super Bowl LI, who do you like?
Right now, it’s looking like Cowboys and Patriots. It’s looking like those two teams. If they met in the Super Bowl, give me the Patriots. [I tell him the Super Bowl line is AFC -3.] You can’t go against Brady, but Prescott and the running back, Zeke Elliot, hell of a running back. And Prescott, came from Mississippi State? See, I know a little.
(Editor’s note: The Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-28, covering the 3-point spread.)
If you had to bet the Warriors vs. the field, what’s your pick?
Cleveland has a new gunner, Kyle Korver. He’s dangerous. He can shoot. They’re stacked. But Golden State’s got Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant. They’re still going to be tough to beat.
(Editor’s note: The Warriors beat the Cavs in five games in the NBA Finals, with opening Finals odds around -260.)