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The history of the Super Bowl coin flip bet

It’s the most bet on prop at the Super Bowl, but there’s plenty of history behind it as well.

Rep. John Lewis, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and Rev. Bernice King look up at the coin toss prior to Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots on February 3, 2019 at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The coin flip isn’t the first weird bet you can make at the Super Bowl (that’s the national anthem over/under wager), but it’s perhaps the one most associated with the game.

It’s also the one with the most action.

Bettors put more money on the coin flip than any other prop associated with the Super Bowl. They add it to parlays, include it with which team will win the toss, and on which team will receive the ball first after kickoff. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it does help to set a mood for the national holiday that is forthcoming.

It’s also not exactly a 50/50 proposition. According to a Stanford study, there’s a 51% chance the side that is facing up when the coin toss process starts will be the same one when it lands. So if the referee decides to have heads facing up as he flips, that side will have a microscopic chance of landing as the winner.

The Highland Mint makes the official coin from the Super Bowl that will be flipped (limited edition of 10,000!), and the side with the Lombardi Trophy is designated as heads. I have a version of that coin from the last Super Bowl in Tampa and flipped it 10 times in my backyard, five times starting on each side: I got six tails and four heads, so make of this what you will.

I also flipped a coin 200 times virtually online that seemed to be the most similar to the Super Bowl coin: The Kennedy half dollar. I got 88 heads and 112 tails. You would guess tails never fails… but it does fail, because heads has won in five of the last seven Super Bowls. But tails is 28-26 in Super Bowl history. I know it’s a lot: Advanced stats can be complicated.

Perhaps the biggest trend you can find on the coin flip would lead you to bet on the home team in their own stadium: The NFC is 37-17 all time in winning the coin flip in the Super Bowl. Although the Chiefs will make the call before the coin is flipped as the road team, history says you should fade them.

It won’t be that complicated for who ends up with the ball: Expect the winning team to likely differ in what should be a shootout in Tampa. Having an extra possession in the second half is now well known enough where the team that wins will kick off most of the time.