2019 Oscars Best Director Fiasco: The Winner WASN’T Leaked, So What Happened?

Posted By Chops on February 25, 2019 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021

A potentially major scandal rocked the Oscars on Sunday, then faded into oblivion.

Online sites in New Jersey took Best Director off the board just hours before the ceremony, as heavy action landed on (my darkhorse pick) Yorgos Lanthimos from The Favourite to win.

Then, something interesting happened: Yorgos Lanthimos decidedly did not win. The heavy favorite all along, Alfonso Cuarón, did. How did this happen?

Yorgos Lanthimos bet heavily, odds plummeted 

Before being removed from the board, Yorgos Lanthimos saw his Best Director odds fall from as high as +5000 to +2000 to the favorite to gone. At some books, including FanDuel Sportsbook, new accounts were opened with wagers solely placed on Lanthimos.

Rumors abounded all over as to how this got leaked, from friends and relatives of Yorgos to other Reddit and social media conspiracies. And the money came pouring in on the underdog.

Here’s the thing though: No relatives would find out, nor anyone outside of the Oscars official vote tallier, PricewaterhouseCoopers. In fact, after PwC’s famous flub two years ago and the massive PR hit it took, the chances of them allowing a leak to happen are less than zero. If the secret got out, there would be a very quick and easy line drawn to who leaked it.

Sportsbooks are fairly risk-averse. When major action comes out of nowhere that could wipe them clean, they’re going to limit their liability, as is their right, and stop taking bets. That’s all that happened here.

As it turns out, all the fuss was for naught. Cuarón won in a category he was heavily favored to do so. The only minor upsets were second favorites with not exactly the longest odds (Green Book +250ish, Olivia Coleman +500ish).

For the most part, the sportsbooks had it right, and the upset gamblers had it wrong. Just like always.

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Steve “Chops” Preiss has 15 years of experience in the gaming industry. Chops began writing and producing content for digital media sites during the early poker-boom years. He has twice been voted by his peers as one of the 20 Most Influential People in Poker. Chops has also written and produced segments for a primetime gaming TV show on Versus (now NBC Sports Network) and distributed a poker program to over 160M global households.

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