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Sports Stars and Their Betting Passions

Sports enthusiasts worldwide combine two passions—enjoying their favorite teams’ matches and betting on them. Betting on sports is among the most popular gambling activities in the world. According to Statista, sports betting revenue in the US alone is expected to reach over $10 billion by 2028.

In addition, many sports stars are also fond of gambling. From betting on sports to playing some of the most popular card games, including poker or blackjack, these world-famous athletes gamble considerable sums on their passion. Win or lose, it’s all about the thrill.

Charles Barkley

There"s probably no basketball-loving kid in the world that once didn"t imagine becoming an NBA star. In addition, most people are aware of those basketball players who have spent their careers among the best. Charles Barkley is one of them.

Barkley is undoubtedly one of the NBA"s greats and a role model. However, he is also a passionate gambler. He once won around $700,000 in just one weekend playing blackjack and betting on the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, luck wasn"t always on his side. One visit to Vegas cost him over $2 million, which he lost in just a couple of hours. 

In 2006, Barkley gave an interview to ESPN confessing his gambling addiction. As the site reports, Charles Barkley lost over $10 million during his career in gambling. However, despite acknowledging the dependence, Barkley was honest about his intention to continue enjoying his passion. 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

Besides being a one-of-a-kind football player and a humanitarian, Cristiano Ronaldo is also a passionate poker player, enjoying one of the most sophisticated and popular table games. Ronaldo even participated in a PokerStars tournament, where he beat Breaking Bad star, Aaron Paul. All his winnings from the event went to a children’s charity

Many people look up to Ronaldo – even to the extent of wanting to play poker to be more like their idol. Still, it may be intimidating to anyone who is a first-time player to sit down at a traditional poker table if they’ve never done so before. Fortunately, there"s a more convenient alternative— playing it online. 

Poker is an essential casino game, and practically all gambling sites offer it. By playing online, you can get familiar with the gameplay and gain further experience, while many online casinos offer bonuses to newcomers and experienced players to enhance their play and motivate them to keep coming back.

Floyd Mayweather

When it comes to professional athletes and their gambling and betting indulgences, Mr. Mayweather is almost in a league of his own. Once known as "Pretty Boy Floyd", these days, his new monicker is "Money". Not least due to his immensely successful career, when he wasn’t busy pummeling his opponents and watching his bank balance grow, he has happily indulged in numerous gambling activities over the years.

Just one famous example came only a few years back, when, towards the end of his career, he stepped into the ring with Conor McGregor in 2017. The fight was always going to be an entertaining curiosity, but Mayweather was confident enough in his abilities to overcome the MMA fighter in the ring that he attempted to bet on himself, specifically with the fight ending in under 9.5 rounds at -200 odds. 

It is important to highlight, that there are no regulations about a boxer betting on themselves by the Nevada State Athletic Commission or the Nevada Gaming Control, however, there was some confusion at the sportsbook as to whether it was entirely appropriate, and as such Mayweather ended up leaving the establishment without a placed bet. As it transpired, it took Mayweather a little longer (just over 10 rounds) to complete this task with a TKO over McGregor and as such he never did pick up the additional $200000 that the win would have netted him. However, while he might not have had that under his belt, the staggering amount of $275 million which he earned from the fight more than made up for that deficit.

Michael Jordan

We would be remiss not to include another one of basketball’s all-time greats, for his intensely competitive nature on the court also translated outside of it, with the NBA star indulging on more than one occasion in some form of gambling.

The recent documentary series, The Last Dance (2020), focused on the efforts of the Chicago Bulls in the 1997/1998 season and at the center of it was Michael Jordan, the player that was to transcend the world of basketball and become one of the most famous athletes (and brands) of our time. The documentary revealed, amongst his many achievements, on and off-court, just how passionate (and competitive) Jordan can be about indulging in games of chance. 

One such incident, as relayed by former NBA player Antoine Walker, involved Jordan and him partnering up for a game of Spades that went on for 36hrs during which, at one point, the duo was down by nearly a million dollars. Fortunately, though, they ended up winning back most of that sum, only being out of pocket by the game’s buy-in fee of $20000. 

While this hasn’t been independently verified, this particular evening of indulgence factored in postponing Jordan’s announcement (in 1995) to return to the NBA. Whether it was the case or not, MJ did indeed make his comeback to the hard courts with two simple words "I’m back."

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