BBC Sports Personality of the Year Odds: Is Anthony Joshua a Lock to Win?

by Aaron Brooks
on November 28, 2017

The British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as BBC, officially unveiled its shortlist of 12 contenders for the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year earlier this week.

Naturally, sports betting website BetOnline was quick to produce betting odds for the award, making boxer Anthony Joshua a -500 favorite to claim the honor. Lewis Hamilton, a Formula One driver, is priced as Joshua’s toughest competition, paying +500, with cyclist Chris Froome (+1600) the only other athlete paying less than 25:1.

Let’s find out a bit more about the award, who it typically goes to, this year’s nominees and the betting odds, then decide which athlete is the best bet to win BBC Sports Personality Of The Year.

What Is The BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award?

A lot of the things they say in England can be a bit confusing to us folks across the pond, and that’s true of the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award as well. It might sound like the award goes to the athlete who has the most entertaining personality, but in reality it’s a lot simpler than that.

Essentially, the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year is to the United Kingdom what the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson Of The Year or Associated Press Athlete Of The Year is to the United States – a recognition of the country’s top-performing athlete over the past 12 months. In order to be eligible to receive the award, an athlete must either be from Britain originally or reside and play a significant amount of their sport in the United Kingdom.

There is one significant way in which the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award differs from awards that are presented in the U.S., however. The public votes on who is crowned the top athlete in the U.K., as opposed to American awards that are determined by members of the media. Voting for the award can be done by phone or online during a live show December 17 in Liverpool.

Who Have Been Past Winners Of The BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Award?

When you think of sports in the United Kingdom, football (soccer) is probably the first one that comes to mind. However, players of the beautiful game actually haven’t fared that well when it comes to winning the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year.

Only 1 soccer player, Ryan Giggs of Wales, has won the award since David Beckham claimed the honor in 2001. In fact, Giggs is the only soccer player to even finish in the top 3 of voting for the award since Steven Gerrard was third in 2005.

The Brits are pretty well-rounded when it comes to their appreciation of different sports, and it shows through their voting for the BBC award. Since 2000, winners of the award have come from such sports as tennis, auto racing, cycling, horse racing, boxing, eventing (equestrian), cricket, athletics (track and field), rugby and rowing.

Tennis star and 2016 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray won the award last year for the second straight time and third time in four years, but injuries derailed much of his 2017 campaign and he was not named a finalist for this year’s award.

Who’s The Best Bet To Win BBC Sports Personality Of The Year?

Just like it is when you’re betting on football, basketball or any other sport, the odds are the first thing we should look at when trying to decide what is the best bet available to us.

As I mentioned earlier, Joshua is a significant favorite to be voted the top sportsperson in the U.K. for 2017, and therefore the most likely winner. However, we need to make sure not to ignore some darkhorses at attractive odds..

Here are the full odds for the award at BetOnline, as of Tuesday afternoon, followed by brief bios of the top contenders and a darkhorse to watch.

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Odds

  • Anthony Joshua (boxing): -500
  • Lewis Hamilton (auto racing): +500
  • Chris Froome (cycling): +1600
  • Mo Farah (athletics): +2500
  • Harry Kane (football): +3300
  • Jonathan Rea (motorcycling): +3300
  • Adam Peaty (swimming): +8000
  • Jonnie Peacock (para-athletics): +8000
  • Anya Shrubsole (cricket): +12500
  • Bianca Walkden (taekwondo): +20000
  • Elise Christie (short-track speed skating): +20000
  • Johanna Konta (tennis): +20000

Anthony Joshua (-500)

The 28-year-old heavyweight boxer hasn’t been that busy in 2017, fighting just twice. But both of those fights were doozies.

Joshua retained the IBF heavyweight title while adding the WBA and IBO belts to his mantle with a technical knockout of former champion Wladimir Klitschko in April, and retained all 3 of those crowns with a TKO of Carlos Takam last month in Wales.

Those wins ran Joshua’s career record to 20-0, and his five consecutive victories in title bouts currently ranks 12th all-time. Voters may also want to recognize Joshua for his past achievements (winning Olympic gold in 2012 and owning the WBC international heavyweight title from 2014-2015), considering that Joshua has never finished in the Top 3 for BBC Sports Personality Of The Year.

Lewis Hamilton (+500)

Already considered by many to be one of the greatest drivers in Formula One history, Hamilton only added to his legacy by winning his fourth career F1 world championship last month in Mexico. That triumph, which the 32-year-old Hamilton clinched with 2 races still remaining in the season, pushed him ahead of Sir Jackie Stewart for the most international titles ever won by a British Formula One driver.

Hamilton won the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award in 2013 and was also the runner-up in both 2007 and 2008.

Chris Froome (+1600)

Froome won his fourth Tour de France cycling title earlier this year and later added the Vuelta a Espana, giving him 2 of cycling’s 3 major championships in 2017.

Like Joshua, however, Froome has never been a top-3 finisher for the BBC Sports honor despite all of his past successes. With cyclists Chris Hoy, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins all receiving the award between 2008-2012, voters might once again choose to recognize another of their top bike riders with a lot of their support this year.

Mo Farah (+2500)

Success in athletics does not go unnoticed in the U.K. In fact, athletes from track and field have accounted for 17 of the 62 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year award winners, with Formula One (10 winners) the only other sport hitting double digits.

The Somalian-born Farah is incredibly versatile, excelling at a variety of distances. This year, after announcing he would be switching from track events to the marathon, Farah won the 10,000-meter run and placed second in the 5,000m at the world championships in London.

Farah is the most decorated athlete in British track and field history, owning 10 international titles and having been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year for his services to athletics. Yet, the closest he’s come to winning this award was in 2011, when he placed third. Maybe this is the year that he receives the recognition from BBC voters that he’s deserved in the past.

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Betting Prediction

I could see Farah being a bit of a sentimental pick by voters, given his lifetime accomplishments, the fact that he was knighted in 2017 and also that he’s now ridden into the sunset of his phenomenal track and field career. There’s probably value in Farah at +2500 as a result, but you could also argue that there’s value in every athlete in the field other than Joshua.

But when the odds are skewed this heavily for something that is determined by a vote, you can’t ignore it. Oddsmakers are going out on a bit of a limb here by making Joshua the -500 chalk, inflating odds on the rest of the field as a result.

I’d never advocate laying -500 on someone winning an award, but it might not be a bad idea to roll Joshua winning the BBC award into a few of your parlays around the middle of December.
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