Super Bowl Octopus Prop: How This Novelty Bet Came To Life

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) dives across the goal line against Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Krys Barnes (51) during their divisional playoff game on Saturday, January 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Apc Pack Vs Rams Div Playoff 2427 011621 Wag
Image Credit: Krys Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

A significant chunk of Super Bowl prop bets have been in the mix for years, often decades — countless tried-and-true props that bettors have come to expect.

But each year brings some new props joining the fray, offering a different spin on the Big Game, looking to attract another segment of casual/new bettors.

Then there are those truly unique props. You know, the ones that lead to this question: What the hell is that?

The Super Bowl Octopus prop certainly falls into that category. And it’s available for Sunday’s clash between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.

Prior to attending Super Bowl 56 in Inglewood, California, Mitch Goldich, creator of the Octopus prop bet, told how this wager was born, and it’s underground cult-like following.

The Origins Of The Octopus

Oct 14, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith (11) kneels in the end zone after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field.
Image Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Back on Oct. 14, 2018, Goldich — an editor and writer for Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback — was doing what he typically does on a fall Sunday: watching a lot of NFL games. That included a rather nondescript meeting between Carolina and Washington, a game Washington led 17-0 on the way to a 23-17 victory.

But in defeat, the Panthers produced the most interesting sequence of plays. Carolina trailed 20-9 in the fourth quarter when Cam Newton hit Torrey Smith with a 3-yard TD pass, making it 20-15. Obviously, going for the 2-point conversion was the right move at that point, to cut the deficit to a field goal. The Panthers converted the 2-pointer, as Newton once again connected with Smith. So one player scored 8 points on one drive.

Goldich was intrigued, tweeting out:

“There should be a cool name for what Torrey Smith just did: Scoring a TD and then also scoring the 2-point conversion right afterward. What should we call this?”

A few hours later, Mike Wallace — a college buddy of Goldich’s — replied to the tweet with a one-word answer: Octopus.

“I try to give Mike credit whenever I can, because he came up with a great name,” Goldich said.

But it was Goldich who then threw himself into researching the Octopus. He wrote a timely piece in spring 2019, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the NFL adopting the 2-point conversion.

“That was [also] the first time I made the spreadsheet of every single Octopus ever. I listed the team with the most, the players with the most,” Goldich said. “Then, the first full weekend of the [2019] preseason, I tweeted out something like: ‘Don’t forget, if anyone sees an Octopus, let me know.’ And like 15 minutes later, a fourth-string running back for the Patriots did it, and we were off and running.”

Indeed, the unknown Nick Brossette scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter at Detroit. And of course, the analytics tell you to go for 2 when you’re up 26-0 in a preseason game. Brossette caught the 2-point pass from Jarrett Stidham, putting the Patriots ahead 28-0, and they ultimately won 31-3.

Super Bowl Octopus Prop Debuts

Jan 4, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) scores a two point conversion during the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card NFL Playoff game at NRG Stadium.
Image Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019-20 postseason immediately provided another boost for the Octopus. On Wild Card Weekend, in Houston’s 22-19 home victory over Buffalo, Deshaun Watson had a 20-yard TD run, then ran in the 2-point conversion. It was the first playoff Octopus in six years.

A few weeks later, when the Kansas City Chiefs met the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl, the Octopus took a great leap — or a great swim, we suppose — forward. Caesars Sportsbook included the option in its Super Bowl props menu. You might say it was Octopus Prime. In the week leading up to the game, the prop blew up, creating huge liability.

Goldich was stunned to hear that the Super Bowl Octopus prop garnered so much attention in its first year on a betting board.

“I was at Super Bowl Media Day, and I had friends sending me texts and screenshots about the prop. And ESPN was talking about it on the Daily Wager, with a big illustrated octopus on the screen. That was really cool to see,” Goldich said.

With practically everybody on Yes at +1,200, Caesars had a six-figure decision on the prop, so the book very much needed No (-3,000) to deliver. And it did.

“For me, that was crazy to think people at Caesars are sweating this out as much as the coin toss or other [popular] prop bets,” Goldich said. “It started out as a fun, silly thing, and I’ve always been a fan of fun, silly things.”

Octopus Prop Extends Its Tentacles

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers (23) runs in the end zone on a 2-point conversion during the 3rd quarter of the Green Bay Packers 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams during the NFC divisional playoff game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Packers Rams 04445
Image Credit: Mike De Sisti-USA TODAY Sports

Goldich continued writing his offseason prop feature ahead of the 2020-21 season, and of course tracking it all season long. And the 2020-21 playoffs really helped bolster the Octopus’ profile.

On Wild Card Weekend, Colts tight end Jack Doyle recorded an Octopus with a late TD catch/2-point reception in a 27-24 loss at Buffalo.

“That was one moment when I thought, ‘Wow, this is really taking off.’ I searched ‘Doyle’ and ‘octopus’ on Twitter, and a whole bunch of people were tweeting about it,” Goldich said.

One week later, in the Divisional Round, Rams running back Cam Akers converted arguably one of the best Octopuses (Octopi?) ever in a 32-18 loss at Green Bay.

Lined up in the Wildcat formation, Akers took the direct snap and ran for a 7-yard touchdown. Then on the 2-point attempt, QB Jared Goff threw to wideout Van Jefferson, who then lateraled to Akers, who ran it in. The old hook-and-lateral.

“I gave that my 2020-21 Octopus of the Year award. [Akers] and I even did an interview when he accepted the award,” Goldich said.

So it’s noteworthy that Akers will start in the Rams’ backfield in Sunday’s Super Bowl, which could lead to something very interesting — should he replicate his previous playoff feat.

“He did tell us that if he ever got another one, he’d do an Octopus celebration,” Goldich said.

Will The Octopus Prop Cash This Year?

Super Bowl prop bet on the Octopus, from Circa Sports mobile app.
Image Credit:

Let’s be honest: There’s a reason Yes is +1,500 and No -2,600 on this prop at Circa Sports. The likelihood of catching a little lightning in a bottle, in the single most-important sporting event in America, is slim.

But it’s by no means out of the question. This season, there have been seven Octopus conversions. In total, the Octopus has occurred 169 times since the NFL installed the 2-point conversion in 1994. That includes six in the postseason — none this year, but three in the two years previous.

“It doesn’t pop up every week, but it’s enough during the season that you’re not gonna go a whole season without seeing it,” Goldich said. “I’d love to see a book offer it on Sundays in the regular season, as well: Will there be an Octopus today in any game?”

Perhaps for that to happen, the Octopus needs to hit on the biggest stage.

“There’s never been one in the Super Bowl. It would certainly raise its profile if it happened on Sunday and [bettors] actually cashed,” Goldich said. “If Al Michaels or Cris Collinsworth, or Joe Buck or Troy Aikman, are talking about it, that’s when we’ll know that it’s really caught on.

“It’s a story if the books have to pay out.”