Ireland’s most popular bookmaker, Paddy Power, has made the bold move to pay out early to gamblers who backed Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidential Election. The Irish bookmaker, which has branches across Ireland and the UK, has already called the victory for the incumbent.
Paddy Power took out a half page ad in Monday’s edition of the Irish Times, calling the vote for Obama. “Sorry Romney,” the ad begins, adding “you’re not black, or cool” and announcing the company would begin honoring some $650,000 in bets made in favor of Obama’s reelection. As it stands the President is a 1 to 4 favorite, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney at 3 to 1. Paddy Power is still accepting bets on the election but won’t be paying those out until after the results of Tuesday’s vote.
(MORE: America Votes: Election 2012)
The Irish organization is confident that they have made the right call, first announced Sunday in a statement on the company’s website. As a Paddy Power spokesperson explains:
“Romney gave it a good shot and is doing well in the popular vote, but we suspect he’s had his moment in the sun and is likely to be remembered more for his legendary gaffes than Presidential potential. The overall betting trend has shown one-way traffic for Obama and punters seemed to have called it 100 per cent correct. Despite Romney appealing to the large evangelical and senior vote, America’s sticking with black and cool.”
TIME spoke with Feilim Mac An Iomaire, Media Relations Manager for Paddy Power, to find out why the organization had decided to call an Obama victory before the actual polling results. “Really we’re hoping the money will be put back in before the end of the race,” explains Mac An Iomaire, “but it also gives us a little publicity.” U.S. presidential elections always generate significant betting interest among Paddy Power’s clients. “It’s is the biggest novelty event of the year,” he says.
This isn’t the first time Paddy Power has made a controversial claim involving the U.S. president. When Obama visited Ireland in 2011, the bookmakers set up stakes on which local pub he would drink a Guinness in during his visit to his ancestral home, the small town of Monegall. Paddy Power also made headlines during the Euro 2012 football championship when Denmark’s Nicklas Bentner pulled down his shorts after scoring a goal against Portugal to reveal the Irish bookmaker’s logo printed underneath.
And what if Mitt Romney wins the election? “We will end up with some very expensive pie in our face,” jokes Mac An Iomaire, “but if it does happen we’ll hold our hands up and admit to the mistake.”