Sure Bets for Super Bowl Sunday

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Rumors, superstitions and the things you can place money on run rampant on Super Bowl Sunday. Rebecca Roberts talks about one of her favorite prop bets this Sunday.


Superstition runs high on Super Bowl Sunday. The team faithful don their lucky socks and make private sacrifices to the gods of yardage and healthy quarterbacks. Those with the proper reverence for Super Bowl juju fear the Super Bowl hangover, where the losing team goes on to have a disastrous next season.

For those who don't much care about football but play the stock market, there is the Super Bowl indicator. When an AFC team wins the big game, the market has a lousy year. So if you're heavily invested, root for the Bears.

One Super Bowl rumor that turns out to be true is that the city of Las Vegas is not allowed to advertise on this or actually any NFL game. The league does not want to be associated with gambling. Well, when you can bet on everything from the coin toss to the final play, the Super Bowl and betting go together like, well, like Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

My favorite proposition this year isn't even about the game. You can bet on whether Billy Joel will sing the national anthem in under or over one minute and 44 seconds. And if that sounds like an awfully long time to get through the song, even accounting for some dramatic slowing at the ye-e-eh wave part - let's go to the tape.

(Soundbite of U.S. national anthem)

Ms. WHITNEY HOUSTON (Singer): (Singing) Oh say, can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming...

ROBERTS: Whitney Houston's 1991 performance is one of the best. And even with her vocal acrobatics, she managed to clock in at just 1:41. Sadly, future performers did not learn from Whitney's example. In 1999, Cher added 13 seconds to close out at 1:54.

(Soundbite of U.S. national anthem)

Ms. CHER (Singer): (Singing) ...and the home of the brave...the brave...the brave...

ROBERTS: Most of Cher's extra time came in her super-duper, extra snazzy finale.

(Soundbite of cheering)

ROBERTS: Beyonce Knowles sang the anthem in 2004 for a full two minutes and nine seconds. She was slowed down by complicated orchestration, but still she milked that final phrase for all it was worth.

(Soundbite of U.S. national anthem)

Ms. BEYONCE KNOWLES (Singer): (Singing) ...and the home of the brave...the brave...

ROBERTS: Granted, these are all women, not necessarily indicative of how Billy Joel will sing tonight. But if his performance at the 2000 World Series is any indication, timing is the least of his worries.

(Soundbite of U.S. national anthem)

Mr. BILLY JOEL (Singer): (Singing) ...the land of the free and the home of the brave...

ROBERTS: This is NPR News.

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