Man Beats 2 Million to 1 Odds to Win Sportsbook Contest

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- A Vietnamese immigrant who came to the U.S. as a boy who had no money and spoke no English has won $25,000 in online sportsbook's $25,000 Streak Challenge contest.

"I guess this is my version of the American dream," Hoa "Tony" Nguyen (pronounced Win, of all things), 45, told Gambling 911 in an exclusive interview at his home in western Maryland on Sunday night.

"I have never been to Las Vegas," Nguyen said. "So that's what I'm going to do with my winnings. At the end of the year, I'll be going out there for the first time and I'll be taking a few friends with me."'s $25,000 Streak Challenge, which has been running for years and is open to's approximately 2,000 customers, requires a contest participant to correctly pick a winner against the pointspread (a side or total) in any college or professional sporting event for 21 days in a row.

Until Nguyen, no one had ever won the contest.

But there he was on Saturday afternoon, having already picked 20 winners in a row over the past 20 days, watching on television as the University of Tennesee and the University of Florida battled in what would become a classic.

For his 21st pick in the streak contest, the pick that would win the contest if correct, Nguyen decided to go with a college football total, also known as the over-under and basically predicting whether a game will be high- or low-scoring.

The total on Tennesee-Florida was 50 and Nguyen took the under

"I really had to sweat out the end of the game," Nguyen said. "It was the final play of the game and the score was tied 20-20. It looked for sure like the game was going to go into overtime.

"And if the game did go into overtime, I knew there was a good chance that there would be more than nine points scored in overtime and that I would lose my under 50 pick.

"But then on the last play of the game, the Florida quarterback threw a Hail Mary pass down the field that was caught for a game-winning touchdown. The game was over, no overtime and my under 50 pick came through. I was going crazy celebrating that TD as much as the Florida players on the field were."

Nguyen's road to gambling success was a long and hard one.

He came to the U.S. as a 13-year-old in 1985, along with his mother and four brothers.

"My aunt married an American and was living in the U.S.," Nguyen recalled. "Over a period of time, she was able to get permission for some of her family members to also come here. The whole process took about 10 years. That's how I got here."

Nguyen, whose regular day job is an inventory consultant, helping businesses conduct merchandise inventories, fell in love with gambling as he grew up in America.

He's been to Atlantic City casinos and almost every weekend visits the Hollywood Casino in nearby West Virginia.

His casino games of choice are pai gow poker, pai gow tiles and blackjack, although he occasionally dabbles in baccarat and roulette.

He doesn't like craps, regular poker, video poker or slot machines.

As far as sports betting goes, Nguyen, quick to point out he's no relation to poker pro Scotty Nguyen, says he bets "on everything" and is just one of four online sportsbooks he uses.

He said he never bets with street bookies.

"I like to bet college and pro football and basketball, as well as baseball and the NHL," he said. "I even bet on college hockey, but unfortunately there's only lines on that during the playoffs. I also bet soccer, golf and tennis. Like I said, pretty much everything."

On any given sports wager, a bettor has a 50-50 chance of winning, or odds of 1 in 2.

The odds of winning 21 sports bets in a row is 1 in 2 to the 21st power, or 1 in 2,097,152.

It's safe to say Tony Nguyen has beaten the odds in more ways than one.

By Tom Somach

Gambling 911 Staff Writer

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