Golf Digest
THE GAMBLER Image Credit: Golf Digest
THE GAMBLER Image Credit: Golf Digest

The Gambler

GETTING INSIDE A GAMBLER’S HEAD IS A RISKY GAME. Particularly with JAMES P. ADDUCCI, the 39-year-old Wisconsin man who bet $85,000 on Tiger Woods to win the 2019 Masters, at 14-to-1 odds, and earned $1.19 million—the largest golf payout on a futures bet in William Hill sportsbook history.

Stephen Hennessey

How could anyone, let alone a guy who doesn’t own his home and knows all too well what it’s like to labor for small paychecks, explain laying that kind of money on a golfer who hadn’t won a major in 11 years?

Also curious is that Adducci claims this was his first-ever sports wager. The weightlifting enthusiast did once bet $3,500 on Arnold Schwarzenegger to win the 2003 recall election to become California governor, and doubled his money. That bet, Adducci says, was based on one of his favorite movies, the 1977 docudrama “Pumping Iron.” How could a guy with a taste for heavy action wait so long to make his first foray into sports? And then make, of all things, a golf bet so outrageously enormous?


I VISITED Adducci where he lives, with his father in a small two-story house in the town where he grew up, La Crosse, Wis. The bright-green carpeting and pink-tile bathroom have never been updated. During the final round of the 2019 Masters, the 5-foot-10, 280-pound Adducci watched his fortune unfold as he sat on a wood rocking chair in their small den. He screamed and yelled at a 25-inch TV. Alongside, in an armless high-back, rested his ailing father, 82, who fell asleep.

“I think it was a bad bet,” laughed Adducci’s father, James C., a week later. He recently has had health issues and has trouble walking. Still, the elder Adducci recalled stories from

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