Who’s the biggest degenerate in all of sports? Most people would probably say Michael Jordan or perhaps even Pete Rose, but all those people would be wrong. The real answer is Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson has been linked to gambling multiple times in the past. Back in 2015, the legendary golfer was involved in a money laundering scandal where court documents alleged he had transferred about $3 million to “an illegal gambling operation.” Later in 2021, Detroit News reported that Mickelson had been linked to an alleged mob bookie trial in 2007. Despite involvement in both lawsuits, Phil walked away scot-free with no charges.
Though the world knew about Mickelson’s betting for years, it seems we never truly understood the magnitude of his addiction. Yes, addiction.
Billy Walters is widely considered to be the most successful American bettor ever. As a Las Vegas businessman who often wagered giant bets successfully, many sportsbooks would refuse to take Walters’ action or would limit the amount he could wager. This led to him partnering with Mickelson in 2006.
Mickelson, a big gambler even at that time, gave Walters access to his offshore sportsbook accounts with large limits. The two struck a deal where Walters would bet under Phil’s account and give him a cut of the profits for allowing him to do so. In the process, Walters became exposed to Mickelson’s wagers as well. And now, years later, is telling the world about Mickelson’s unfathomable betting record.
According to Walter’s new book Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk, from the years 2010-2014 Mickelson wagered 858 bets of $220,000 and 1,115 bets of $110,000. That totals over $300 million dollars in money wagered. Walters also estimates that over the past three decades, Mickelson has wagered over $1 billion dollars, losing at least $100 million in total.
As the country’s greatest gambler, Walters has partnered with various other degenerates over the years. However, Walters admits that “the only other person I know who surpassed that kind of volume is me.”
Walters continues in his new book to say that Mickelson loves gambling more than just about anyone he has ever met. That’s a lot coming from someone who deems themselves as “America’s biggest gambler.”
“Phil liked to gamble as much as anyone I’ve ever met. In all the decades I’ve worked with partners and beards, Phil had accounts as large as anyone I’d seen. You don’t get those accounts without betting millions of dollars,” Walters writes in the book.
The most notable and shocking story Walters told about partnership with Mickelson occurred during the 2012 Ryder Cup. Mickelson, a competitor in the USA vs England golf matchup, asked Walters to place a $400,000 bet on the United States to win the cup. Obviously, Walters had some problems with this idea.
“Have you lost your f***ing mind?” Walters recounted asking Mickelson. “Don’t you remember what happened to Pete Rose? You’re seen as the modern-day Arnold Palmer. You’d risk all that for this? I want no part of it.”
While Walters refused to place the bet, he suggests it’s still possible Phil did so on his own but says he doesn’t know. Hopefully for Mickelson, he took Walters’ advice as the US went on to lose the Ryder Cup by one point.
Mickelson and Walters ended their betting partnership in 2014 when federal agents began looking into a series of stock trades that each had made. In 2017, investigators indicted Walters for conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud and sentenced him to five years in prison. He claims innocence and says Phil knew the truth, but refused to testify on his behalf. Mickelson’s refusal didn’t just send Walters to jail, but strained their relationship forever.
“Phil Mickelson, one of the most famous people in the world and a man I once considered a friend, refused to tell a simple truth that he shared with the FBI and could have kept me out of prison,” Walters writes. “I never told him I had inside information about stocks and he knows it. All Phil had to do was publicly say it. He refused.”
Mickelson has not publicly addressed the book or any of Walters’ claims since its release. However, back in June of 2022, Phil sat down with Sports Illustrated to talk about the impact gambling has had on his life. Phil said his betting had become “reckless,” “embarrassing” and an “addiction.”
Earlier this year on Twitter, Mickelson replied to a user asking about his current gambling situation and said “Haven’t gambled in years. Almost a billionaire now. Thanks for asking.”
For your own sake Phil, I really hope you’re telling the truth.