An Auckland man has won the football bet of a lifetime, turning a punt of $20 into more than $200,000.
It's believed to be the largest ever payout the New Zealand TAB has recorded on a football exclusive multi-bet, with eventual odds of over 10,000 to 1.
The 36-year-old self-employed Manchester United fan, who asked to remain anonymous, successfully predicted the number of first half goals in eight European football matches over the last three weeks to collect a total of $210,000.
The games included two English Premier League games, four UEFA Champions League matches and a Spanish Cup match.
A multi-bet cumulatively increases with each successful prediction, but one wrong pick and everything is lost.
After getting the first six legs correct, his potential haul hinged on the final two games, Tottenham against Chelsea, as well as a titanic battle between Real Madrid and Barcelona, both played last Thursday morning.
Before those matches he was offered a chance to 'cash out' his bet, with the TAB looking to mitigate their potential liability.
"They offered me $16,000 and stuff before the game and I said 'no, leave it for now'," the man told the Herald. "I didn't want to cash it out – I thought I would try my luck."
Despite his best intentions, he watched both matches simultaneously on split screens, which turned into an agonising 45 minutes or so, given the possible fortune that was at stake. He had wagered that both games would be goalless at halftime.
In the London derby Chelsea striker Gonzalo Higuaín hit the post from 12 yards, then missed another gilt-edged chance, while Spurs midfielder Harry Winks later struck the woodwork with a long range effort.
There was also a ton of chances in Madrid, as the home side besieged the Barcelona goal in the first half.
"There were a lot of 'almost' goals, heaps, but they didn't go in," said the punter
As the half progressed, agonisingly, minute by minute, the man also had to weigh up more offers from the TAB, of between $30,000 to $40,000, all the while knowing that a single goal in either match would render his bet null and void.
"During the [first half] they were offering good money to [cash out] at that time, but I didn't take it," said the man.
The halftime whistle was blown in Spain, with the score at 0-0 and the seventh leg of his multi was secured. However the first half at Stamford Bridge still wasn't over.
"Real Madrid and Barcelona finished first," said the man. "But the Chelsea match was still going. Then [the fourth official] displayed one minute extra time and when I saw that my heart started racing."
The windfall had come at a good time for the punter, and he admits his partner is "very happy".
"We are not rich so we need the money," he said. "It's fair to say we are both over the moon. We plan to pay off some bills and other things and then probably go on a holiday, maybe to Bangkok or Japan. And eat a lot of KFC!"
He said he put the bet together one evening after work.
"I was sitting at home looking at the [TAB] website and I saw all the good teams come up and went through the options," he said.
It is by far his biggest gambling win, though he has also had two "five figure" hauls over the last couple of years, with a combination of rugby and football multis.
Leg 1: Roma v Porto - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.02
Leg 2: Ajax v Real Madrid - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.92
Leg 3: Tottenham v Dortmund - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.14
Leg 4: Liverpool v Bayern Munich - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.45
Leg 5: Atletico Madrid v Juventus - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $2.42
Leg 6: Man Utd v Liverpool - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.22
Leg 7: Real Madrid v Barcelona - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.5
Leg 8: Chelsea v Tottenham - First Half Total Goals - Under 0.5 @ $3.01