A deep dive into Mickey Guyton, Super Bowl LVI national anthem prop bet
For each of the past three years, I've made it my personal and professional mission to provide the most comprehensive breakdown available - dedicating dozens of hours and thousands of words - on everyone's favorite Super Bowl prop bet: the length of the national anthem.
The results have been promising. We cashed on performances by Gladys Knight (2019) and Demi Lovato (2020) before last year's duo of Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan flew past the closing total of 1:59. (Note to self: never bet under on a duet.)
This year, rising country music star Mickey Guyton will take the stage in Los Angeles ahead of Super Bowl LVI, and oddsmakers don't expect her to be out there for long. So, as is tradition, here is everything you need to know - and then some - about betting this year's national anthem. Buckle up.
History of the Super Bowl anthem
Let's start with the most obvious storyline of this year's anthem: it's projected to be one of the shortest in Super Bowl history. In fact, the consensus opening total of 1:35 was just one second higher than the lowest betting total since oddsmakers started setting the over/under for this prop in 2007.
Early money has pushed that as high as 1:40, but that's still the second-lowest betting total in the 15-year history of this prop bet. If she sang it in exactly 1:40, it would also mark the seventh-shortest anthem since 1990 and shortest since Kelly Clarkson (1:34) in 2012.
Traditionally, low totals bode well for under bettors. Here's a look at how every singer has fared since '07 compared to their over/under:
|2021||Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan||2:17||1:59||Over|
There's very little precedent for a total this low, but past results give us an idea of what to expect Sunday. In the last 15 years, eight solo artists have closed with a total of two minutes or less (excluding last year's duet). The under went 5-2-1 in those eight anthems, with Clarkson pushing on the shortest total on the board.
Guyton's age (38) hints at a short performance, as well. Of the 14 solo performances since '07, six singers were at least 38 years old. Five of them went under, as only Idina Menzel's lengthy 2015 performance (2:04) rewarded over bettors. (Mileage may vary on Knight's rendition in 2019, with her famed "double brave" causing headaches for bettors and books alike.)
And what about the history of country music singers in this spot? That favors the under, too. Since 1990, four of the nine shortest anthem performances were courtesy of country artists, including two of the six clocking in at under 1:40. Even Luke Bryan, the last solo country artist to perform the anthem, checked in five seconds under his closing total of 2:09.
Who is Mickey Guyton?
Just like any Super Bowl bettor would study film on the Rams and Bengals, I've been grinding tape of Guyton's past performances ahead of her Sunday showcase to highlight any patterns or irregularities. (You're welcome.)
We don't have a ton of past recordings to lean on, as Guyton is relatively new to the mainstream scene and has only belted the anthem a handful of times in front of a live audience. But they've all shared one thing in common: they're incredibly short.
A year ago, Guyton performed the anthem at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. It was clean, crisp, and clocked in right around 1:25 - a full 15 seconds shorter than the betting total for Sunday:
She also sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville in 2015, though the video starts just before she says "the dawn's early light." Still, even if you add five to six seconds to her total - which is how long it took for her to get to that line in her most recent performance - she still cruises through the song in roughly 1:30. See for yourself:
Those sharp, speedy renditions are par for the course for Guyton, who has risen to fame behind her powerful yet direct style as a vocalist.
Her debut album, "Remember Her Name," captures her journey as a Black woman in country music and America, and the rising star doesn't mince words - or notes - with the album's 16 songs averaging 3:10. That's roughly 20 seconds shorter than the average song on the Billboard Hot 100, according to a study from 2019, and well below the average mark for country music.
She's also intimately familiar with the national anthem. Earlier this week, Guyton called it "my song" in an interview with the Los Angeles Times and said she sang it before every basketball game at her high school in Texas. She even earned a reputation for how quickly she flew through those performances.
"I guess they call me Quicky Mickey," she told Entertainment Tonight's Tionah Lee, "because I do sing the national anthem fast."
As if that's not enough to stop reading and pound the under, take a look at her performing her breakthrough hit "Black Like Me" at last year's Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. She sang with a gospel choir behind her - much like what she has planned for Sunday's anthem - in a brisk 2:50.
That's a full 40 seconds (!) shorter than the song's studio version. Even if you dock roughly 20 seconds for the intro and outro, she still trimmed at least 20 seconds in a punchy, powerful performance in front of a live audience. Don't be surprised to see a similar no-frills approach to the anthem Sunday.
How long will the anthem take?
I'll be the first to admit: when I saw the initial total for this year's anthem, my gut reaction was that the number was priced far too low and to bet the over accordingly. Clearly, others felt the same, as evidenced by the total climbing five seconds since it opened.
However, a look at past years suggests that, by and large, oddsmakers know what they're doing with this market. Since 2007, the closing total has been within seven seconds of the actual anthem's duration in 10 of 15 years. Of those five outliers, three finished well under the market price, with last year's duet (2:17) and Alicia Keys' famously long 2013 performance (2:35) serving as the lone "over" performances that far exceeded the market.
So what does that tell us? Oddsmakers priced this historically low for a reason. Guyton isn't known for embellishing tones in her work, and she's flown under 1:40 in every recorded version of the anthem. Given the early action, it might be worth waiting until closer to kickoff to fire off an under bet, but there's value in betting it now at plus money, too.
Either way, it would be surprising to see Guyton go off script on the song that she says inspired her to pursue a career in country music. So whether it's now or later in the week, hit the under and enjoy what should be the shortest Super Bowl anthem this century.
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