After a busy few weekends with travel and weddings, Kevin Maselli was glad to have a Saturday at home to spend with his girlfriend, Leah DiNardo.
The young couple looked forward to cooking dinner, watching the NCAA tournament and relaxing out on the deck of their two-bedroom New Jersey apartment near the beach. It sounded like a good plan, until March Madness ensued.
By the time the chicken parm hit the dinner table and the wine bottle had been opened, the relaxation was replaced by the biggest gambling sweat of Maselli's life.
This is how a 14-cent parlay won over $1,300 and might end up adding another wedding to Maselli's upcoming calendar.
A 29-year-old special education teacher in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Maselli is a sports fanatic and a recreational bettor with an unorthodox approach: He prefers to bet pennies on massive, long-shot parlays that require a bevy of selections to all be correct. He bets a lot of them, too, sometimes 10 10-cent parlays on a given night of NBA or college basketball.
"It's weird, but placing these cents parlays is something I've always done," Maselli told ESPN.
Occasionally he'll hit one, but nothing like what he found himself sweating with his girlfriend on March 23, the first Saturday of the NCAA tournament.
It was a mild day on the Jersey Shore. Maselli and DiNardo took a walk along the boardwalk and playfully discussed potential picks for the round-of-32 games on tap. This was the first year DiNardo had entered a bracket pool, and she was winning. Maselli sought her advice and returned to the apartment to place his bets -- another bunch of penny parlays. He was down to the final 14 cents in his online account with DraftKings, and placed a parlay featuring point spread and over/under selections on seven of the day's eight games. The odds were close to 10,000-1.
Big winner! pic.twitter.com/luU8IPLPm5
- Kamasell17101 (@Kamasell17101) March 25, 2019
Kentucky and Michigan covered the spread, with both games staying under the total. Michigan State, Florida State, Baylor and Purdue all came through for Maselli. The parlay would be decided by Auburn-Kansas, and he needed the Tigers -1.5 plus the game to go over 146.5 points.
"By the 12-minute mark, I started pacing," Maselli recalled. "At the 4-minute mark, Auburn was in control, but I didn't really believe it. I told my girlfriend and she didn't believe it, either. I was in shock."
Auburn cruised to an 89-75 victory. At 12:45 a.m., an email from DraftKings congratulating Maselli on his win popped into his inbox. He screamed, "Boom goes the dynamite!" after confirming he had won $1,345.78 off a 14-cent bet.
"I haven't really dwelled on that I didn't put more money on it, because I always put like 10 of these a day and, c'mon, what are the odds of hitting one of these?" Maselli said with a laugh. "I mean, c'mon, let's be honest."
Maselli has plans for his winnings, and, if his luck hasn't run out, that 14-cent bet might lead to his wedding.
"It's going to the ring fund," he told ESPN in a whisper. "She's close by, so I'm trying to keep it down a little bit."