Phil Mickelson Wagered $1B, Lost $100M on Sports Betting, Ex-Friend Billy Walters Says

Phil Mickelson has placed more than $1 billion in sports bets over the last three decades, losing close to $100 million, famed professional gambler Billy Walters claims in a forthcoming autobiography.

Walters also alleges that the six-time major champion attempted to place a $400,000 wager on the 39th Ryder Cup in 2012—an event that Mickelson himself was playing in.

A request for comment sent to Mickelson through an online form was not immediately returned, but he took to Twitter on Thursday to say that he had “never” bet on the Ryder Cup.

“While it is well known that I always enjoy a friendly wager on the course, I would never undermine the integrity of the game,” his tweet read.

“I have also been very open about my gambling addiction. I have previously conveyed my remorse, took responsibility, have gotten help, have been fully committed to therapy that has positively impacted me, and I feel good about where I am now.”

The explosive allegations were detailed in an excerpt of Walters’ book, Gambler: Secrets From a Life at Risk, published in Golf Digest partner The Fire Pit Collective on Thursday. Walters is widely regarded as one of the most successful American gamblers of all time, boasting a supposed 30-year winning streak.

In the excerpt, Walters says he’d first met Mickelson at a golf tournament in 2006, and that the pair had become fast friends and gambling buddies. Within a two years, according to his telling, Walters and Mickelson had struck a 50-50 agreement wherein the golfer would take their bets to two offshore sportsbooks, and that they’d split the profits evenly. Mickelson’s high limits with these accounts allowed Walters to “at least double” his own, he wrote.

Walters alleged Mickelson made 7,065 bets on both professional and college sports—football, basketball, and baseball—from 2010 to 2012. The golfer allegedly made more than 3,100 bets in 2011 alone, an average of nearly nine a day. His losses would eventually total close to $100 million, Walters wrote.

In 2012, according to Walters, Mickelson called him while preparing for that season’s Ryder Cup. The golfer asked him to place the $400,000 bet on him and his U.S. teammates, who would be facing off against the Europeans at the tournament.

“Have you lost your fucking mind?” Walters replied, in his own telling. He refused to help Mickelson, writing, “I have no idea whether Phil placed the bet elsewhere. Hopefully, he came to his senses, especially considering the ‘Miracle at Medinah.”’ (The Americans would go on to lose in a stunning upset to Europe’s team.)

Walters says he ended his partnership with Mickelson in 2014.

Three years later, Walters was sentenced to five years in prison and a $10 million fine after being convicted of what a judge called an “amateurishly simple” insider trading scheme.

At his 2016 trial, prosecutors claimed the plot involved a tip-off to Mickelson, who made nearly $1 million in profits after Walters advised him to buy stock in Dean Foods, a dairy company that went bankrupt a few years after the trial.

Mickelson was not charged in the case, though he did have to repay his ill-gotten gains after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued him. He did not testify at Walters’ trial—something the gambler groused about in his book excerpt.

“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 wrote. “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.”

As a result, Walters lost his “freedom” and was dealt a “heartbreak I still struggle with daily,” he writes.

“While I was in prison, my daughter committed suicide–I still believe I could have saved her if I’d been on the outside.”

It is unclear when exactly Walters’ daughter killed herself. Set to be freed in Jan. 2022, his sentence was commuted a year early by then-President Donald Trump.

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