Amid the influx of horror stories we have heard about replacement officials and how awful they were for the game of football, there is at least one story that sticks out from all the rest. By blowing one of the biggest calls in NFL history and essentially handing the Seahawks a win over the Packers last week, the NFL’s replacement refs changed the lives of Branford, Ontario’s Geno DiFelice.
Heading into the Monday night game last weekend, DiFelice was a perfect 14-for-14 on his Ontario Loterry (Proline) NFL picks sheet. When the officials infamously ruled that Golden Tate had simultaneous possession of a pass that Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to have intercepted, DiFelice won $725,274.
“I still can’t believe it,” DiFelice said Monday according to the Toronto Sun. “It’s funny when you think of it. It’s unbelievable.”
DiFelice’s winnings are the third-highest payout in Proline history. No, he’s not some gambling guru. In fact, the ticket he filled out himself without any advice only had four picks right. It turns out Geno can thank his daughter for the fortune he just won.
“Every week I do a ticket with my picks, and then I ask my kids (Mia, 12 and Marco, 10) who they like,” he explained. “I do one ticket each with their picks. The winner was the ticket my daughter consulted me on. The funniest part is, the ticket I made all of the picks myself, I only got four right.”
Some of the earnings better go into Mia’s college fund. DiFelice said he only watched the last 1:48 of the game because he was so nervous, and he stayed up for five hours afterward waiting to hear what he had won. If the Packers had won, he would have had to split the winnings with five others.
While the blown call may have changed the season for Seattle and Green Bay and cost other gamblers hundreds of millions, it ultimately put over $500,000 in the pocket of one lucky man in Canada.