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Phil Mickelson wagered over $1 billion, tried to bet on Ryder Cup, book alleges


Phil Mickelson bet more than $1 billion on football, basketball and baseball over the last three decades and even allegedly attempted to place a $400,000 wager on Team USA in the 2012 Ryder Cup in which he participated, according to an upcoming book by renowned professional gambler Billy Walters.

Excerpts of the book “Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk” were first reported Thursday by Fire Pit Collective and provide the most detailed look yet at Mickelson’s sports gambling and his relationship with Walters, a Las Vegas businessman who is widely considered to be the most successful American bettor ever.

Citing betting records and “two very reliable sources,” Walters writes that from 2010 to 2014, Mickelson made 858 bets of $220,000 and 1,115 bets of $110,000. He estimates Mickelson endured losses of approximately $100 million, while betting more than $1 billion over the last three decades.

“The only other person I know who surpassed that kind of volume is me,” Walters writes.

According to the book excerpts, in September 2012, Mickelson called Walters from Medinah Country Club during the 39th Ryder Cup and asked Walters to place a $400,000 wager for him on the U.S. team to win.

Walters responded by scolding Mickelson: “Have you lost your %&*$ing mind? Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose? You’re seen as the modern-day Arnold Palmer. You’d risk all that for this? I want no part of it.”

Walters added that he didn’t know if Mickelson placed the bet elsewhere. The Americans lost the Ryder Cup to the Europeans by one point.

ESPN has reached out to Mickelson for comment.

Mickelson’s affinity and struggles with sports gambling have long been in the public domain. In 2015, court documents in a money-laundering case revealed that nearly $3 million was transferred from Mickelson to an intermediary of “an illegal gambling operation.” In 2021, the Detroit News revealed that Mickelson had been linked in court documents to an alleged mob bookie in a 2007 trial.

Mickelson was not charged in either case, but stories of his gambling have surfaced throughout his golf career, in which he’s made more than $96.6 million in PGA Tour on-course earnings. The six-time major champion also reportedly signed a multi-year contract with LIV Golf worth about $200 million.

In June 2022, he told Sports Illustrated that his gambling became “reckless,” “embarrassing,” and an “addiction.” Two months ago, while responding to a question on social media about his gambling addiction, Mickelson said, “Haven’t gambled in years. Almost a billionaire now. Thanks for asking.”

“Phil liked to gamble as much as anyone I’ve ever met,” Walters writes. “Frankly, given Phil’s annual income and net worth at the time, I had no problems with his betting. And still don’t. He’s a big-time gambler, and big-time gamblers make big bets. It’s his money to spend how he wants.”

According to the book excerpts, Mickelson first met Walters at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The two formed a betting partnership in 2008, which gave Walters access to offshore sportsbook accounts that Mickelson used to place big wagers. Because of Walters’ betting success, bookmakers often refuse to take his action or limit the amount he can wager, so he partners with bettors who are offered larger limits.

“In all the decades I’ve worked with partners and beards, Phil had accounts as large as anyone I’d seen,” Walters writes. “You don’t get those accounts without betting millions of dollars.”

Walters and Mickelson stopped their betting partnership in the spring of 2014, when it was revealed that federal authorities were looking into a series of stock trades that they each made. Their friendship had a falling out after Mickelson refused to testify in an ensuing insider-trading case against Walters. In April 2017, Walters was convicted on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud and was sentenced to five years in federal prison. His sentence was eventually commuted by former President Donald Trump.

“Phil Mickelson, one of the most famous people in the world and a man I once considered a friend, refused to tell a simple truth that he shared with the FBI and could have kept me out of prison,” Walters writes. “I never told him I had inside information about stocks and he knows it. All Phil had to do was publicly say it. He refused.”

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.



This story originally appeared on ESPN

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