For Pete's Sake

Here are the longest of the long shots in sports history who have won

In this 1980 file photo, the U.S. hockey team pounces on goalie Jim Craig after a 4-3 victory against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
In this 1980 file photo, the U.S. hockey team pounces on goalie Jim Craig after a 4-3 victory against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Associated Press

Even people who don’t follow soccer can appreciate what the new champions in England accomplished.

Leicester City’s championship is the most unlikely in sports history. Oddsmakers in England have said they will never give the odds (5,000-1) that Leicester received. Here are some of the biggest long shots to win.

5,000-1 Leicester City wins Premier League soccer title

United Kingdom oddsmakers thought so little of Leicester City when the Premier League soccer season started that you could get better odds on Elvis Presley being found alive and well. And while nobody at this point can cash on Elvis at 2,000-1, oddsmakers are having to pay off on Leicester City, which entered the season as a 5,000-1 shot to win the title for the first time in its 132-year history. Leicester City clinched the title without playing Monday as Tottenham and Chelsea played to a 2-2 tie. Estimates are that this will cost bookmakers $14.6 million.

1,000-1 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team

The Soviet Union seemed unbeatable, but the U.S. team, full of amateurs, took them down in the final group stage at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. The U.S. team then beat Finland and won the gold medal. One model has since calculated that the Americans were a 1,000-1 shot to win gold.

1,000-1 2013 Auburn football wins BCS title

The Tigers were coming off a 3-9 season in 2012, and was unranked when play began. When the BCS title game ended, however, Auburn had won the national championship, despite being given 1,000-1 odds ahead of the season.

999-1 St. Louis Cardinals capture 2011 World Series

Manager Tony La Russa (above) and the Cardinals were 4  1/2 games behind Atlanta for the National League wild card with 15 games to play, and at that point Las Vegas oddsmakers had St. Louis at 500-1 to the win the NL pennant and 999-1 to win the World Series. The Cardinals sneaked into the playoffs by going 11-4 down the stretch, then won the World Series over Texas.

500-1 Minnesota Twins win the 1987 World Series

In 1986, the Minnesota Twins finished 71-91, 21 games behind the division-winning California Angels. They allowed the most runs per game in the American League (5.18), and were given 500-1 odds to win the World Series in 1987. That was manager Tom Kelly’s first full season, and the Twins won the American League West by two games over the Royals. Minnesota then beat Detroit in the ALCS and the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

300-1 St. Louis Rams triumph in Super Bowl after 1999 season

The Rams signed free-agent quarterback Trent Green before the 1999 offseason, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. That left Kurt Warner (above), who had four NFL completions to his credit after playing in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, as the starter. He became the NFL’s MVP as the Rams went 13-3 and won their only Super Bowl title.

150-1 Greece wins the 2004 European Championship

Greece’s previous appearance at a major soccer tournament, the 1994 World Cup in the United States, ended horribly. The team returned home after losing all three games, scoring no goals and conceding 10. But none of its opponents at the 2004 European Championship proved capable of breaking Greece down. The Greeks won their three knockout matches, including the final against host Portugal, by the same scoreline, 1-0, playing a defensive and counter-attacking style that coach Otto Rehhagel had instilled in his team.

50-1 Mine That Bird rolls in 2009 Kentucky Derby

Mine That Bird was far back as the field entered the final turn of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, but he made a powerful stretch run and won by 6  3/4 lengths. A $2 win ticket was worth $103.20. Only Donerail, a 91-1 shot in 1913, won the Run for the Roses at longer odds. It was Mine That Bird’s last victory.

42-1 Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson in 1990

Going into the fight in Tokyo, Tyson (right) had a 37-0 record with 33 knockouts and seemed invincible. Douglas, perhaps motivated by the pain of his mother’s death several weeks before the match, dominated the fight early. Tyson did knock down Douglas in the eighth round, but but Douglas got up and stopped Tyson in round 10.

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