Paddy Power’s Joe Lee is behind bets on Jeff Sessions, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Vladimir Putin and Trump painting the White House gold; POTUS is more popular than golf and boxing
Paddy Power is playing both sides.
In an era of bitter partisanship, the Dublin-based bookie is enticing both the #MAGA crowd and Never-Trumpers to shell out on bets pegged to President Donald Trump. Think POTUS will complete his first term in office? Well odds are 11/10 on a yes. Hope that France will request a return of the Statue of Liberty after the administration’s proposed clampdown on legal immigration? You can take a punt at 66/1.
The man who orchestrates these wagers is Joe Lee, a 35 year old oddsmaker who says he’s close to being Trump’s biggest fan. Appointed this summer as Paddy Power’s Head of Trump Bets, Lee used to offer odds for American professional sports before being drawn to his new role by a love of politics. “There’s certainly similarities with sporting events where you’re conscious of [important] events and breaking news,” Lee tells Moneyish. “From a job longevity perspective, I hope he lasts. This role doesn’t exist without Donald.”
To craft bets and offer odds on this most unusual of presidencies, Lee checks American media regularly while also paying close attention to the Tweeter-in-Chief’s account. “If Trump is trending on Twitter, I know it’ll be a busy day,” he says. “We’re reacting constantly here to the ever-changing and unpredictable nature of Trump. He’s the greatest thing that’s happened to Twitter” recently.
That said, there are also differences from sporting events, where history, team news and weather conditions are among the things considered. “These markets are a bit more volatile since there’s not [much] to go by,” he says. Lee normally makes what he thinks is a reasonable estimate and discusses them with colleagues before posting the wagers online.
Paddy Power offers its fair share of serious bets, allowing people to speculate on who the next White House Communications director might be (Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the favorite, with even odds) and the next cabinet appointee to resign (beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions at 6/4.) But in its main Irish and British markets, it’s best known for its irreverent sense of humor— something it’s also applying to Trump bets. (Paddy Power also lets customers speculate on everything from the next James Bond movie director to the upcoming recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.)
That means you can also take a gamble on Trump painting the White House in his signature gold (500/1), putting up his likeness on Mount Rushmore (66/1), offering U.S. citizenship to Mexicans (300/1) or going on a vacation with Vladimir Putin before January 20, 2021 (66/1). “If a bunch of mates are out at night and having a discussion into Trump, we want to feed into it,” Lee says.
Last year, Paddy Power paid out about $5.2 million to those who put their money on Trump winning the presidency. Lee won’t disclose the value of Trump-related bets that have been placed overall, but politics wagers have been the third fastest-growing category of new customer bets at Paddy Power in the last 12 to 18 months. That’s a period that coincides with Trump’s ascendancy as a major candidate, GOP nominee and president. “He’s more popular than a lot of our stable sports, like golf and boxing,” he says.
An Everton fan has dressed as the Grim Reaper today at Goodison and is stood directly behind David Moyes. pic.twitter.com/mtJeskCX5H
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) April 20, 2014
Paddy Power has previously played stunts on those it covers. When David Moyes was on the verge of getting sacked as manager of English soccer giants Manchester United in 2014, it famously sent a fake axe-wielding costumed Grim Reaper to sit behind him at a game. Lee says Paddy Power might play a prank if Trump ever gets to Ireland, but mostly he just wants to meet the President. “The ultimate aim is to get to golf with the great man,” he says. “I’m addicted to the Donald.”
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