This New Jersey financial pro just won nearly $500K on a sports bet. He’ll use it to pay off student loans.

After winning nearly $500,000 on a $5 sports bet, a New Jersey financial adviser said he is planning to follow some of the advice he gives to clients and put the money to good use.

Travis Dufner, a 32-year-old adviser with Millstone Financial Group in Millstone, N.J., is the bettor who has stepped forward to say he won the $489,378.01 parlay payoff. The wager involved picking 14 players who would score a touchdown over the holiday weekend’s NFL games.

When San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey came through with a second-quarter touchdown in the Monday night game against the Baltimore Ravens, Dufner realized that his improbable bet, which carried odds of almost 100,000 to 1, had finally paid off.

Dufner told MarketWatch that he planned to use his winnings to pay off student loans that he and his wife have, plus “some car payments we’d like to get rid of.” But he doesn’t plan to put anything toward his home mortgage, noting that it’s locked in at a hard-to-beat rate of 3%.

“It’s almost free money,” he said of the mortgage.

Dufner said he’ll also look at investing some of his winnings with an eye on his future — just like he tells clients to do.

“This goes a long way to getting a little more retirement savings,” he said.

So how did Dufner end up winning such an improbable bet? He said it all has to do with being a serious student of the game, going back many years.

“I always felt like I had a superior knowledge with NFL statistics. I really get into detail with this stuff,” he said, noting that he had previously won a $50 parlay bet that paid $14,000.

Still, Dufner holds no illusion that winning is easy, especially against such long odds. Still, he said he wasn’t too worried about the final piece of the parlay puzzle — the McCaffrey touchdown — because the running back has been a consistent scorer this season.

Instead, he was panicking earlier on Monday, during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. Dufner had picked Eagles running back D’Andre Swift to score a touchdown, but he noted that any time the Eagles get close to the end zone, quarterback Jalen Hurts often does the running himself. Dufner also worried that the Eagles might rest Swift if it seemed the club was going to easily defeat the Giants.

But Swift came through with a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Parlay bets have become a favorite among sports bettors in recent years — in large part because of the potential for sizable payoffs in spite of those long odds.

People “are really excited about the idea of betting a little to win a lot,” said Steven Salz, chief executive and co-founder of Rivalry, a Toronto-based sportsbook.

Dufner said he made his wager with DraftKings
The Boston-based sports-betting platform confirmed the winning parlay bet, although it says its policy prevents it from releasing the names of any winners.

Presuming Dufner can be taken at his word — and his story has been shared widely via social-media videos that he posted — his payoff is certainly an impressive one. But it’s far from the biggest in sports-betting history. Consider the $75 million that Jim McIngvale, aka Mattress Mack, took home for correctly predicting that the Houston Astros would win the 2022 World Series.

Despite Dufner’s gridiron knowledge, he said he’s very careful in his betting and rarely risks more than $20 in any given week. He advised others to be similarly cautious and gamble only the few dollars they can afford to lose.

“In the long run, you’re not going to win,” Dufner told MarketWatch. “Don’t see this as a way to make money.”

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