Wager wars: The best and the worst sports bets by New York politicians

Rivalries come as naturally in sports as they do in politics. Often times, the two intermingle, especially when championships are in the air.

Our state and city leaders have tried to take part in that proud tradition themselves over the years by getting in on the action — albeit in a friendly, legal way.

Somewhere along the line, however, our leaders have lost their way and are apparently willing put New York’s honor on the line for rice cakes. Here’s a look at some of the more prominent sports bets New York leaders have made over time.

mayoral wages sports bets new york rangers la kings
Credit: Getty Images/City of Arlington

New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani vs.
Arlington Mayor Elzie Odom

New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers (1998 Playoff series)

Stakes: If the Yankees won, Mayor Odom owed Mayor Giuliani a 10-gallon hat, a “Texas-sized portion” of Texas barbecue. But if the Rangers won, Giuliani would deliver Odom a pair of tickets to a Broadway show of his choice, a pair of tickets the MEet Opera and “a New York-sized portion” of Nathan’s Hot Dogs. The losing mayor would have to wear the winner’s team cap too.
Winner: Giuliani.
Grade: 2 out of 5
Why: Better than the previous wager for boots, and a subsequent bet over bagels and cannolis. Also, who doesn’t like a good 10-gallon hat.

mayoral wages sports bets new york rangers la kings
Credit: NYC Mayor’s Office/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vs.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (2011 AFC Championship)

Stakes: If the Steelers won, Bloomberg would hang the infamous “Terrible Towel” on a New York City Public Library on Fifth Avenue. If the Jets won, Mayor Ravenstahl would put a Jets Fireman hat on a Pittsburgh landmark. Also, the loser would wear the jersey of the winning team as they assembled care packages for recently returned members of the armed services — everything filmed and posted on YouTube.
Winner: Ravenstahl.
Grade: 5 out of 5
Why: Video evidence on social media of faux humiliation is always a good thing. Also, charity.

mayoral wages sports bets new york rangers la kings
Credit: Getty Images

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams vs.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors (2014 NBA Playoffs)

Stakes: A straight-up CDs swap, with winner sending the losing politician a copy of an album by a local artist — presumably Jay-Z from Brooklyn and, by request, anything but Justin Bieber from Toronto. The original bet also had some beer from the Brooklyn Brewery before the substance-troubled Ford opted strictly for music.
Winner: Ford.
Grade: 3 out of 5
Why: It was a nice headline for the troubled Toronto mayor after months of unflattering press. Everything’s finally coming up Rob Ford.

mayoral wages sports bets new york rangers la kings
Credit: Getty Images/City of Arlington

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vs.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre

New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens (2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs)

Stakes: Blasio took to Twitter to bet a Rangers jersey and a bag of bagels, while Coderre wanted more. After some publicly tweeted back and forth, the two agreed the loser would declare the winner’s city’s bagels the best and fly the winner’s flag over their City Hall.
Winner: de Blasio.
Grade: 4 out of 5
Why: It was comforting to see a transparent negotiation process between politicians for once.

mayoral wages sports bets new york rangers la kings
Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vs.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings (2014 NHL Stanley Cup Finals)

Stakes: If the Rangers win, Garcetti will help perform a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! If the Kings win, de Blasio will help perform a rendition of Randy Newman’s “I Love LA.”
Winner: To be decided.
Grade: 3 out of 5
Why: While Metro New York doesn’t want to see the Rangers lose, we’re curious what kind of pipes de Blasio is working with.

Credit: NYS Governor's Office/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vs.
California Gov. Jerry Brown

New York Rangers vs. Los Angeles Kings (2014 NHL Stanley Cup Finals)

Stakes: If the Kings win, Cuomo will send Brown a “Taste NY Gift Basket” full of products from around the state — including apples — and a commemorative hockey puck from the 2013 “Hat Trick” of three on time budgets in a row. If the Rangers win, Brown will send a book about California’s history and Lumberg Organic Brown Rice Cakes — lightly salted, natch.
Winner: No one.
Grade: 1 out of 5
Why: A hockey puck. Celebrating budgets. And rice cakes? Come on, guys.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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