“If he’s trending, I know it’s going to be a busy day,” Lee told The Daily Beast.
Lee is the head of Trump Betting at the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, which is Europe's largest. If this sounds like a stunt, it isn’t. Since the election, politics betting has accounted for Paddy Power’s third highest number of new bets.
Politics bets, most frequently placed on Trump-related topics, have accounted for more wagers in 2017 than anything but soccer and horse racing, the two sports he called the “backbone and pillars” of the company.
“With the U.S. election, we said, ‘Here’s a guy in the media every day,’” said Lee. “‘What can we do?’”
What they can do at Paddy Power, they’ve learned, is create a ton of prop bets, some with stronger roots in reality than others. There are wagers on impeachment, sure, and others about members of the family fleeing the country. But that’s just the start of it.
Odds on Trump converting to Islam are 50:1. Scientology? Twenty-five to one. Trump is more likely to deny the existence of God altogether (20:1) than to grow a Hitler mustache (66:1).
The highest odds on the next word Trump will misspell on Twitter is on “until” (6:1). The odds of Joe Biden “meeting Trump at an event and punching him right in the face” are 100:1.
Lee’s team is fast-moving and open to ideas, he says. They solicit suggestions on Twitter and scour the news for quick ideas. Paddy Power had odds on a covfefe-related bet within about 90 minutes, he said.
“It’s something that’s unique to us. A lot of people bet on politics. We’re taking requests and filling a void in the market,” he said. “They’d be less likely to get that from someplace else. The likes of Vegas, they’re in the halfway house for stuff like this.”
If you live in the U.S., you can’t place a bet on Trump through Paddy Power. You’ll have to go to one of Paddy Power’s retail outlets in Ireland, which Lee said is not at all uncommon.
“We did have a lot of betting tourists before the election, or expats motivated to place a bet,” said Lee. “They just walked into stores to place a bet with cash.”
Lee has 15 years of experience in bookmaking, which allowed him to effectively Dick Cheney himself into his new job. Paddy Power conducted a high-profile hunt to fill the job that 120 people responded to, and Lee was on the search committee. One applicant was an ex-employee of Trump’s bankrupted Atlantic City casino.
“We got media-savvy PR people, and we got political analysts, but we couldn’t get a blend of the two,” he said. “In the end, we just hired me.”
Now, Lee and a team of three or four people toss back and forth odds on a specific idea, say, Trump meeting with the leader of the Ku Klux Klan (a not-at-all reassuring 33:1), then come up with an aggregate that makes sure everyone in the room is happy.
Lee used to do this with football, the American kind, since he used to run American sports betting at Paddy Power.
“It’s very different from dealing with sports. Is it on turf? What’s the weather like? Who’s the starting quarterback? We’d weigh all that up,” he said. “Now you can’t do that.”
That sort of uncertainty is why Lee’s team placed the release of a sex tape involving Trump at 14:1. Trump specifically getting "caught visiting prostitutes in the Moscow Ritz" is set at 100:1.
What were Trump’s odds to become president when he started running?
“He hit the market at 250:1,” said Lee. “We immediately saw him as a joke candidate.”
The odds at Paddy Power aren’t looking good for Trump to remain president. The site is offering 2:1 odds for impeachment in 2017 and 4:6 odds in his first term.
Still, Lee is rooting for him. His job depends on it.
“I hope he stays in his job as long as possible,” he said. “He can fire all the people he wants.”