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Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman places 1st-ever sports bets from space

Inspiration4 commander and tech billionaire Jared Isaacman looks out the cupola window on SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.
Inspiration4 commander and tech billionaire Jared Isaacman looks out the cupola window on SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. (Image credit: Inspiration4)

SpaceX's all-private Inspiration4 mission has notched another spaceflight first — although most parents are probably hoping this one doesn't inspire their kids to similar action.

Jared Isaacman, the tech billionaire who paid for and commands the Earth-orbiting Inspiration4, has placed two bets on NFL football with the BetMGM Sportsbook, part of the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas. They're the first-ever official sports wagers made from the final frontier, BetMGM representatives said.

"This is a truly historic moment. Thanks to Shift4 Payments for the incredible honor of asking BetMGM to participate," BetMGM chief revenue officer Matt Prevost said in an emailed statement today (Sept. 16). (Isaacman is founder and CEO of Shift4, a payment-processing company.)

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The betting slips from Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman's in-space bets, made via a proxy bettor with MGM Grand's BetMGM Sportsbook.

The betting slips from Inspiration4 commander Jared Isaacman's in-space bets, made via a proxy bettor with MGM Grand's BetMGM Sportsbook. (Image credit: BetMGM/MGM Grand)

Via a proxy bettor, Isaacman bet $4,000 that the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team would score at least 41 combined points during their game Thursday night, and another $4,000 on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl this season.

The first bet came through — Washington won, 30-29 — and netted more than $3,600. The Eagles aren't expected to be very good this year, so the Super Bowl wager is a huge longshot. Isaacman got 66-to-1 odds on that one, meaning he'll net $264,000 if the Eagles win it all. (Presumably he made this bet with his heart rather than his head; Isaacman is from New Jersey and may therefore be a fan of the nearby Eagles.)

Isaacman isn't pocketing any winnings himself, however: All the proceeds will go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. The Inspiration4 mission aims to raise $200 million for the hospital, and Isaacman has already pledged $100 million of his own money toward this cause.

BetMGM has also donated $25,000 to St. Jude.

"On top of the excitement of bets being made from space, we’re even more thrilled to be able to contribute and raise awareness for a great cause in St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital," Prevost said.

Inspiration4 is the first all-private mission to Earth orbit. Isaacman and his three crewmates — Hayley Arceneaux, Sian Proctor and Chris Sembroski — launched on Wednesday night (Sept. 15) aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and are scheduled to return to Earth on Saturday (Sept. 18). 

This story was updated at 1:55 a.m. EDT on Sept. 17 with the news that Isaacman's bet on the New York-Washington game paid off.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Space.com since 2010. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.