Prop bets have been around for a long time, but have gained a lot in popularity in recent years.  Betting on the outcome of a game has simply become too boring and mundane, and gamblers want something more interesting and more challenging to wager on.

This year’s Super Bowl LIV is full of prop bets, including J-Lo’s “butt cleavage” and whether or not MC Hammer will say “too legit” in a Cheetos commercial, but some bets are tied directly to the big game itself, and could actually influence the outcome.

One of the more interesting game-related prop bets centers on the coin toss.  Sure, there’s a 50-50 chance of getting the correct answer, but, believe it or not, there’s more to it than that.  The way the coin flips might actually determine will end up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the game, and could have oddsmakers scrambling as the teams begin to take the field for the first time.

The coin toss is a big deal.  It typically involves celebrities serving as the official coin-tosser, big announcements and more, and almost always takes place three minutes or so before the first kickoff is scheduled to take place.  Sometimes, the coin toss is such a big deal that it causes the kickoff to be delayed.

In 53 Super Bowls, according to TheLines.com, the coin toss has found tails 28 times – just better than half.  That would certainly seem to give heads the chance to make a nice underdog win this year, but there’s more.  From 2009-2013, heads popped up, followed by tails from 2014 to 2017.  If that streak were to continue, it would mean that tails is due for one more appearance before giving control back over to heads.

The away team, the team that is the lower seed, always makes the call on how the coin will land, and then gets to choose how it starts if it guessed correctly. It can decide to defend a certain end zone or defer the choice to the other team, and that choice is crucial.  For what it’s worth, the 49ers are considered the away team this year.

In watching how the coin toss has gone over the years, a picture begins to emerge.  It isn’t just a question of what the outcome of the flip will be or whether or not the away team will get it right, although these are ready to see a lot of action, as well.  More than that, though, the winner of the coin toss suddenly finds itself against the odds.  Historically speaking, the team that wins the coin toss – either the away team guessing correctly, or the home team being given the choice by an incorrect guess – more often than not loses the big game.

Based on the numbers, the winner of the coin toss has gone on to win the Super Bowl only 45% of the time, losing the other 55%.  With those figures, it would almost seem counterproductive to want to be victorious on what might actually be considered the opening play of the game.