Unbelievable Upsets: The Most Shocking Moments in Sports Betting History!

The bets that broke the bookies. We look at some of the most unpredictable sports betting outcomes of all time!

Unbelievable Upsets: The Most Shocking Moments in Sports Betting History!
Unbelievable Upsets: The Most Shocking Moments in Sports Betting History!

Sports betting is a pastime centred on unpredictability and thrill, with sporting upsets renowned for costing the bookies millions! In this blog, the team look at ten of the biggest sports betting upsets of all time.

1. The Miracle on Ice (1980 Winter Olympics)

Event: USA vs USSR, Ice Hockey

Odds: USA 1000-1

Outcome: In what is arguably the greatest upset in sports history, the USA Olympic hockey team, composed mostly of amateur players, defeated the Soviet Union, who were considered the best team in the world. The US victory against such staggering odds remains a symbol of extraordinary achievement against all expectations.

The ice hockey match between the Soviet Union and the United States at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, famously known as the "Miracle on Ice," is one of the most iconic moments in sports history. This game, played on February 22, 1980, was part of the medal round of the men's ice hockey tournament and held far more significance than a typical Olympic event, both in terms of sports and international politics.

The Miracle on Ice - 1980 Winter Olympics Footage

The Soviet Union team entered the Olympics as heavy favourites. They were considered the best in the world, having won the gold medal in four previous Olympics and having a team mostly composed of professional players with extensive international experience. In contrast, the United States team was made up of amateur players, mostly college students, and was not expected to compete seriously for a medal.

The game was set against the backdrop of the Cold War, adding a layer of political tension to the sporting competition. The Soviet Union, representing the communist bloc, and the United States, a symbol of the capitalist West, were in the midst of a geopolitical struggle for influence and power. This context turned the match into a symbolic battle between two conflicting ideologies.

The game itself was a thrilling and intense affair. The Soviets took an early lead, but the United States team, coached by Herb Brooks, displayed remarkable resilience. The American team adopted a fast-paced, physical style of play, which seemed to unsettle the Soviet team. As the game progressed, the United States managed to tie the game and eventually took the lead with a goal by team captain Mike Eruzione.

The final minutes of the game were tense, with the Soviet team pressing hard for an equalizer. However, the United States team, backed by the fervent home crowd, held firm, and when the final buzzer sounded, they had secured a stunning 4-3 victory. The win was a massive upset and was quickly dubbed the "Miracle on Ice."

This victory had a profound impact beyond the realms of sports. It was a moment of immense national pride for the United States, providing a morale boost at a time when the country was grappling with various economic and international challenges. For the Soviet Union, it was a rare and humbling defeat in international sports.

The "Miracle on Ice" is remembered not just as an incredible sports achievement but also as a significant cultural and political event. The victory of the underdog U.S. team over the dominant Soviets was seen as a metaphor for the triumph of democratic ideals over communist rule. It remains a defining moment in Olympic history and a powerful example of how sports can transcend beyond the playing field and reflect broader societal and political narratives.

2. Leicester City Wins the Premier League (2015-2016)

Event: English Premier League

Odds: 5000-1

Outcome: Leicester City, a small club with one of the lowest budgets in the league, defied all odds by winning the Premier League. Their triumph is widely regarded as one of the most improbable in team sports history, shaking the foundations of English football.

Leicester City's triumph in the 2015-2016 Premier League season is one of the most extraordinary and inspiring underdog stories in the history of sports. Before this season, Leicester City, a relatively small club in the English football landscape, was considered a long shot for even a top-half finish in the Premier League, let alone winning the title. The team had narrowly avoided relegation in the previous season and began the 2015-2016 campaign with 5000-1 odds of winning the league.

The team was managed by Claudio Ranieri, an Italian coach who had been appointed before the start of the season. Ranieri, who had previously managed several top clubs in Europe, brought a wealth of experience, but his appointment was met with skepticism by many who doubted his ability to turn the fortunes of the club around. However, Ranieri's tactical acumen, coupled with a strong team spirit and a highly effective style of play, soon started yielding results that surprised many.

Leicester City's playing style was characterized by a solid defense, a tireless midfield, and a lethal counter-attack. The team's success was built on the foundation of a tight-knit, well-organized unit that worked hard for each other. Key players like Jamie Vardy, who set a record by scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches, Riyad Mahrez, who was named the PFA Players' Player of the Year, and N'Golo Kanté, whose work rate in the midfield was phenomenal, were instrumental in the team's success.

Throughout the season, Leicester City maintained remarkable consistency, defeating some of the biggest teams in the league and holding their own against others. As the season progressed, what many initially dismissed as a fluke became a real possibility. The team's cohesion, spirit, and resilience under pressure were unlike anything seen in recent times in the Premier League.

The defining moment came on May 2, 2016, when Leicester City were confirmed as Premier League champions following Tottenham Hotspur's draw with Chelsea. This remarkable achievement was celebrated not just in Leicester but across the footballing world. It was a victory for team spirit, hard work, and tactical intelligence over financial muscle and star power.

3. Buster Douglas Knocks Out Mike Tyson (1990)

Event: World Heavyweight Boxing Championship

Odds: 42-1

Outcome: In a stunning upset, underdog Buster Douglas knocked out the undefeated champion Mike Tyson. This match is often cited as one of the biggest upsets in boxing history, proving that in sports, nothing is impossible.

James "Buster" Douglas' victory over Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990, in Tokyo, Japan, stands as one of the most remarkable upsets in boxing history. At that time, Tyson was not only the undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion but also widely considered to be unbeatable due to his intimidating style, formidable power, and a streak of 37 straight wins, many by knockout.

Douglas, on the other hand, was a talented boxer but largely regarded as an underdog. His career had been inconsistent, and few believed he posed a significant threat to Tyson. However, Douglas entered the fight highly motivated, driven by personal challenges, including the recent loss of his mother. This emotional drive was a key factor in his performance.

The fight began with Tyson as the aggressor, but Douglas used his superior reach and agile movement to keep Tyson at bay. Douglas' jab, in particular, was effective, disrupting Tyson's rhythm and allowing Douglas to land powerful combinations. As the fight progressed, Douglas grew more confident and assertive, while Tyson seemed unable to dominate as he had in past bouts.

In the tenth round, Douglas landed a series of heavy blows that sent Tyson to the canvas for the first time in his career. Tyson struggled to recover, fumbling for his mouthpiece, but he couldn't beat the referee's count. Douglas was declared the winner by knockout, shocking the boxing world.

This victory was more than just a sporting upset; it was a testament to the unpredictable nature of boxing and sports in general. Douglas' win served as an inspiration to many, symbolizing the potential for overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds. His achievement is remembered as one of the greatest upsets in sports history and has since been a benchmark for underdog victories in boxing.

4. Japan Defeats South Africa in Rugby World Cup (2015)

Event: Rugby World Cup

Odds: 40-1

Outcome: Japan's rugby team, known as the Brave Blossoms, shocked the world by defeating two-time world champions South Africa. This victory, often referred to as the "Brighton Miracle," is celebrated as one of the greatest upsets in Rugby World Cup history.

The match between Japan and South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup stands as one of the most astonishing upsets in the history of sports. This game, played on September 19, 2015, at the Brighton Community Stadium in England, was a pool stage match that pitted the Brave Blossoms of Japan against the Springboks of South Africa, one of the traditional powerhouses in world rugby.

South Africa entered the tournament as one of the favourites, having won the World Cup twice before, in 1995 and 2007. Their team was filled with world-class players and boasted a rich rugby heritage. Japan, on the other hand, had a less distinguished record in rugby. They had not won a World Cup match since 1991 and were considered minnows in the world rugby scene.

The match started with South Africa scoring early and asserting their expected dominance. However, Japan quickly showed that they were not going to be easily overpowered. They played with incredible discipline, tactical intelligence, and heart. The Japanese team, coached by Eddie Jones, displayed a brand of fast-paced, attacking rugby that seemed to catch the South Africans off guard.

As the match progressed, it became clear that this was not going to be the one-sided affair many had predicted. Japan scored tries and kept up with the pace and physicality of the South Africans. Their defence was tenacious, and their attack was fearless. The Brave Blossoms' commitment and determination were evident in every tackle and every scrum.

The climax of the match came in the closing moments. With Japan trailing by just two points, they were awarded a penalty that could have tied the game. However, instead of kicking for a goal and the draw, they opted for a scrum to go for the win. This decision was a bold statement of intent and ambition. In a dramatic and nail-biting sequence, Karne Hesketh scored a try in the final minute of the game, securing a historic 34-32 victory for Japan.

The impact of this win was profound. It was celebrated as a monumental achievement in Japanese sports and brought significant attention to rugby in Japan. The match was hailed as a testament to the spirit of the game, showcasing values of courage, tenacity, and sportsmanship. For South Africa, it was a humbling experience but also a reminder of the unpredictable and competitive nature of the sport.

This victory is often remembered not just for the shock result but also for the way it was achieved - with skill, bravery, and a refusal to be intimidated by a more fancied opponent. It remains one of the greatest upsets in Rugby World Cup history and a shining example of why sports can be so unpredictable and thrilling. If only they had the same performance in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

5. Greece Wins the UEFA Euro 2004

Event: UEFA European Championship

Odds: 150-1

Outcome: Greece, considered a minor team in European football, stunned the continent by winning the Euro 2004. Their defensive tactics and team spirit helped them overcome teams with far more star players, rewriting football history.

Greece's victory in the UEFA European Championship, commonly referred to as the Euro, is a remarkable tale of underdog triumph in the world of football. Prior to their stunning success in the 2004 tournament held in Portugal, Greece was not widely regarded as a football powerhouse. Their win was a result of a combination of tactical discipline, unwavering team spirit, and a few moments of football magic.

Under the guidance of German coach Otto Rehhagel, the Greek national team adopted a highly defensive and disciplined approach to their game. This strategy was characterized by strong teamwork and a focus on solid defending, with an emphasis on capitalizing on set-piece opportunities and counter-attacks. The Greek team's journey to glory was marked by a series of unexpected victories against some of the tournament's favourites, including hosts Portugal in the opening match, France in the quarter-finals, and the Czech Republic in the semi-finals.

The final against Portugal was a tense and closely fought encounter. Greece managed to score a solitary goal through Angelos Charisteas, who headed in a corner from Angelos Basinas. This goal proved to be the decisive moment in the match. The Greek defense, led by the likes of Traianos Dellas and Michalis Kapsis, withstood the Portuguese onslaught for the rest of the game, showcasing remarkable resilience and tactical discipline.

Greece's victory in the Euro 2004 was a classic example of how a well-organized team, without any star players or flashy play, can achieve extraordinary success through determination, unity, and a well-executed game plan. It was a win that shocked the football world and remains one of the most memorable and inspiring underdog stories in the history of the sport. This triumph also served to unite the Greek people in a time of national pride and joy, providing a much-needed boost to the country's morale.

6. 1983 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship: NC State vs. Houston

Event: NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Odds: NC State 200-1

Outcome: North Carolina State, led by coach Jim Valvano, pulled off a stunning victory against the heavily favoured Houston team, known as Phi Slama Jama. NC State's last-second dunk remains one of the most iconic moments in college basketball history.

The 1983 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game between North Carolina State University (NC State) and the University of Houston is remembered as one of the most dramatic and unexpected upsets in college basketball history. This game, held on April 4, 1983, at The Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was the culmination of a tournament filled with surprises and memorable moments.

Houston, nicknamed the "Phi Slama Jama," was a formidable team known for its athletic prowess and high-flying style of play. The team was led by future NBA stars Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler and had dominated the college basketball scene that year. Their high-scoring games and dunk-filled performances had made them the favourites to win the championship.

NC State, coached by Jim Valvano, was the underdog in this matchup. The Wolfpack had an unremarkable regular season but had caught fire in the ACC Tournament, securing an unexpected berth in the NCAA Tournament. Their journey to the championship game was marked by a series of close games and last-minute victories, including a buzzer-beater win over the University of Virginia in the Elite Eight.

The championship game itself was a tense and closely contested affair. Houston's athleticism and power were on full display, but NC State's resilience and strategic play kept them in the game. Valvano had devised a game plan that focused on controlling the tempo, minimizing turnovers, and capitalizing on Houston's weaknesses. NC State’s players executed this plan flawlessly, managing to slow down the game and limit Houston's opportunities to showcase their trademark fast-paced style.

The climax of the game is etched in basketball lore. With the score tied in the final seconds, NC State's Dereck Whittenburg heaved a long-range shot that fell short of the hoop. In a moment of perfect serendipity, Lorenzo Charles, an NC State forward, caught the airball and dunked it as time expired. This dramatic basket gave NC State a stunning 54-52 victory.

The image of Coach Valvano running across the court in disbelief and joy became an iconic symbol of the tournament's unpredictability and excitement. This victory by NC State is often cited as a quintessential example of the "Cinderella story" in sports, where a less heralded team triumphs against all odds. It remains a testament to the power of teamwork, strategy, and belief in the face of overwhelming odds. The 1983 NC State team's journey to the national championship is a beloved and inspiring chapter in the annals of college basketball history.

7. 2001 Wimbledon: Goran Ivanišević Wins

Event: Wimbledon Men's Singles

Odds: 150-1

Outcome: Goran Ivanišević, a wildcard entry ranked 125th in the world, triumphed at Wimbledon in a fairy-tale run. He became the lowest-ranked player and the first wildcard entry to win a Grand Slam, beating favourites like Tim Henman and Patrick Rafter.

Goran Ivanišević's victory at the 2001 Wimbledon Championships is one of the most remarkable and memorable moments in tennis history. Ivanišević, a Croatian tennis player, had already made a name for himself in the tennis world with a powerful serve and a strong grass-court game, but despite reaching the Wimbledon finals three times before (in 1992, 1994, and 1998), he had never clinched the title.

In 2001, Ivanišević entered the tournament as a wild card, ranked 125th in the world. This was highly unusual, as wild card entries are typically not considered strong contenders for winning major titles, especially in Grand Slam tournaments like Wimbledon. His journey through the tournament was nothing short of a fairy tale. He defeated several top players on his way to the final, showcasing not just skill but also a remarkable level of mental resilience.

The final, played against the Australian Patrick Rafter, was an epic battle. The match was played over five sets and spanned two days due to rain delays. The atmosphere was electric, with a highly engaged crowd, many of whom were rooting for Ivanišević, the underdog. The match was marked by high tension, with both players showing exceptional skill and determination.

Ivanišević's victory in the final set was a moment of immense emotional release for him and his fans. It was a triumph of perseverance, as he had come close to winning Wimbledon several times but had always fallen just short. Winning as a wild card made his victory even more extraordinary and inspirational. It was also a significant moment for Croatian sport, highlighting the country's presence on the global tennis stage.

This win remains one of the most iconic underdog stories in sports, not just for the quality of tennis played, but for the sheer emotion and narrative that accompanied Ivanišević's journey to his first and only Grand Slam title. His victory is often cited as an example of the unpredictability of sports and a testament to the idea that on any given day, any player can triumph, regardless of their ranking or previous record.

8. 2016 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers Comeback

Event: NBA Finals

Odds: Cavaliers 5-1 (after being down 3-1 in series)

Outcome: The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors, who had the best regular-season record in NBA history. Their comeback is regarded as one of the greatest in NBA Finals history.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' comeback in the 2016 NBA Finals is one of the most remarkable moments in basketball history. They were facing the Golden State Warriors, a team that had set the record for the most wins in a regular season with a 73-9 record. The Warriors were also the defending champions, having won the title in 2015. The Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, were underdogs from the start of the series.

In the first four games of the Finals, the Cavaliers found themselves in a dire situation, trailing 3-1 in the series. No team in NBA Finals history had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. However, the Cavaliers, undeterred by the odds, mounted an unprecedented comeback. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the team stepped up their game significantly.

Game 5 was a turning point, with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each scoring 41 points, a rare feat in NBA Finals history. Their performance not only won the game but also shifted the momentum of the series. Game 6 saw a similar level of intensity and skill from the Cavaliers, with LeBron James again scoring 41 points. This forced a decisive Game 7.

Game 7 was a nail-biter, with both teams playing at their best. The game was close throughout, but it was a late-game block by LeBron James, known as "The Block", on Andre Iguodala, and a crucial three-pointer by Kyrie Irving that sealed the victory for the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers won 93-89, completing their historic comeback.

LeBron James was named the Finals MVP. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game throughout the series. His performance, particularly in the last three games, was one of the greatest in NBA Finals history.

The Cavaliers' victory was not just a remarkable sports achievement but also had a significant emotional impact on the city of Cleveland. It ended a 52-year professional sports championship drought for the city. The victory was seen as a symbol of resilience and determination, mirroring the city's own struggles and comeback in recent years.

9. 2018 US Open Tennis: Naomi Osaka Defeats Serena Williams

Event: US Open Women's Final

Odds: Osaka 3-1

Outcome: Naomi Osaka, then just 20 years old, defeated Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, in a dramatic and controversial final. Osaka's victory marked her rise as a new star in women's tennis.

The 2018 US Open Women's Singles final, held on September 8, 2018, featured a highly anticipated match between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, marking a significant moment in tennis history. This final was not just a contest between two outstanding players, but also a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next in women's tennis.

Naomi Osaka, a rising star in the tennis world, was competing in her first Grand Slam final. Born in Japan and raised in the United States, Osaka had rapidly climbed the ranks of professional tennis with her powerful play and composed demeanor on the court. Her opponent, Serena Williams, was one of the greatest tennis players of all time, seeking her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would have tied the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

The match itself was notable for the high level of play and the poise shown by Osaka. She outplayed Williams from the outset, displaying a mix of powerful serving and baseline dominance. Osaka won the first set and continued her impressive form into the second set. Meanwhile, Williams faced challenges, including a controversial code violation for coaching, which escalated into further penalties. These incidents created a tense atmosphere in the stadium, with the crowd becoming increasingly vocal.

Osaka's performance in this high-pressure situation was remarkable. She remained focused and composed, undeterred by the unfolding drama and the crowd's reaction. Eventually, she won the match in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, claiming her first Grand Slam title.

The victory was a breakthrough moment for Osaka, establishing her as a major force in women's tennis. However, the match was also overshadowed by the controversy involving Williams and the chair umpire, which sparked widespread debate about sportsmanship, gender equality in sports, and the treatment of athletes by officials.

The aftermath of the match saw both players showing a great deal of respect for each other. Despite her disappointment, Williams consoled a tearful Osaka during the trophy presentation, acknowledging her achievement and asking the crowd to stop booing. Osaka, for her part, showed immense respect for Williams, whom she had long admired.

The 2018 US Open final was a defining moment in women's tennis, not just for the emergence of Naomi Osaka as a Grand Slam champion but also for the broader conversations it sparked. It highlighted the challenges athletes face under intense pressure and scrutiny, and it raised important questions about equality and sportsmanship in tennis. This match remains a significant and memorable event in the history of the sport.

10. 2007 Cricket World Cup: Ireland Beats Pakistan

Event: Cricket World Cup

Odds: Ireland 200-1

Outcome: In a shocking result, Ireland, an amateur team and a non-test playing nation, defeated Pakistan, one of the favourites to win the tournament. This result is considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Cricket World Cup.

Ireland's win over Pakistan in the 2007 Cricket World Cup is remembered as one of the most remarkable upsets in cricket history. The match, which took place on March 17, 2007, coinciding with St. Patrick's Day, held special significance for the Irish team and its supporters.

At the time, Ireland was an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), not a full member like Pakistan. This status indicated their relatively peripheral position in world cricket, with less experience and exposure to top-level international games compared to cricketing powerhouses like Pakistan.

The match was held in Jamaica as part of the group stages of the World Cup. Ireland had qualified for the World Cup after a strong performance in the ICC Trophy, but they were still widely considered underdogs. The expectations from the cricketing world were minimal, with many assuming that Pakistan would easily win the match.

Ireland, however, delivered a stunning performance. After winning the toss and electing to field, they managed to bowl out Pakistan for a surprisingly low score. The Irish bowlers, particularly Boyd Rankin and Andre Botha, displayed exceptional skill and discipline, unsettling the Pakistani batsmen.

In the second half of the match, Ireland's batting line-up faced the challenge of chasing Pakistan's total. Despite the pressure and the high stakes, the Irish batsmen showed remarkable composure. Key contributions from players like Niall O'Brien, who scored a gritty half-century, propelled Ireland towards a historic victory.

The win was more than just an upset; it was a statement from a team that was not expected to make any significant impact in the tournament. Ireland's victory over Pakistan is celebrated not only for its David vs Goliath nature but also for the sheer joy and enthusiasm that the Irish team brought to the game. It highlighted the unpredictable and thrilling nature of sports, where on any given day, the underdog can triumph over the favourite.

These remarkable upsets showcase the unpredictable nature of sports, where determination, skill, and a bit of luck can lead to unimaginable triumphs. They serve as reminders that in the arena of competition, anything can happen, and the underdog always has a chance to rewrite the script.

Compare Sports Betting Sites Today

Here at, we direct sports bettors to the best bookmakers in the business, helping them find top free bets and offers to make the most of their betting selections.