Is the 'Drake curse' alive? Star rapper's massive NBA Finals bets on the Nuggets resurrect superstitions

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Nikola Jokic, Drake

After the Nuggets lost to the Heat in Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals, superstitious hoop fans and basketball bettors alike have started grumbling on social media about star rapper Drake's big-money bets on Denver winning it all. Is the 'Drake curse' alive and well? Or was the Nuggets' loss on Sunday night a mere bump in the road for the high-rolling hit-maker?

When we last discussed the 'Drake curse,' the Canadian millionaire had just made a massive bet on Gervonta "Tank" Davis to beat Ryan Garcia in their highly-anticipated bout back in April. Davis ultimately won that fight, leading many to believe that the Grammy winner's curse was finally broken for good. 

But — *record screech* — now that the Nuggets suffered an epic Game 2 collapse on Sunday night, the "Hotline Bling" rapper could be facing another run of bad luck to add to his infamous betting track record. 

Drake's reputation for high-profile, high-stakes bets precedes itself, especially considering the fact that he typically announces his million dollar bets right on his social media stories. What he has rarely made public, though, are the results.

The 36-year-old has stacked together some downright brutal losses, including a $1,000,000 bet on Argentina to win the World Cup in regulation (Messi and company prevailed via penalty kick shoot-out in extra time) and a $400,000 bet on Jake Paul to knock out Tyson Fury (Fury won in a heavily-disputed split decision). 

Have Drake's bets on the Nuggets resurrected the infamous 'Drake curse?' Let's take a look at the rap star's wagers themselves, discuss his bad-luck history, and decide whether Nuggets fans and bettors have legitimate cause for concern in this NBA Finals best-of-seven. 

How much did Drake bet on the Nuggets?

According to his Instagram, Drake put down a $1,000,000 Bitcoin stake on the Nuggets to win the 2023 NBA Finals outright. He also separately bet an additional $250,000 on Denver to win in five games. The million dollar wager would net the rapper just a $230,000 profit if the Nuggets ultimately win their first NBA championship. The quarter-million stake would be the real money-maker — if Nikola Jokic and company rebound from Sunday night and win the series in a 4-1 "gentleman's sweep," Drake would make $600,000.

The $1 million wager is about as safe a high-stakes bet as Drizzy could have made, similar to his million dollar bet on Tank Davis in April. It won't yield a massive profit, but it has a high chance of hitting. Perhaps Drake has turned over a new leaf in the sports betting world, aiming to shed his reputation as a losing bettor who curses players and teams.

Or, perhaps Drake is secretly rooting for Miami — practically his second home, at this point — and hoping he reverse-jinxes the Heat into a championship. Only "Champagne Papi" knows the real answer. 

What is the Drake curse?

Simply put, many believe that Drake dooms the teams and sports stars he backs, bets, supports, or hangs around. When he poses for a photo with an athlete from a certain team, that team's fanbase shutters. When he dons the jersey, shirt, or shorts of a particular club or organization, bettors hedge their wagers for the squad in question. But the creme de la creme of Drake curses, of course, come in the form of the rapper's publicly-shared bets.

Basically, Drizzy has become the Nostradamus of Ls. And sometimes even when he picks winners, he loses due to the fine print. The Argentina 2x1 multiplier in the World Cup — which would have netted him $2.75 million on a $1 million stake if not for France's Kylian Mbappé tying the match at the 117th minute — is a perfect example. Drake walked away with nothing, because his bet was on an Argentinian win in regulation. 

But that's just a bad betting beat, not a case of the "Started from the Bottom" rapper picking a loser. You don't need to be a Google whiz to find the many instances in which the pop culture superstar made poor betting picks and/or brought bad juju to teams or players. Just take a look at some of the highlights, er, low-lights:

  • April 2014: Drake releases the song "Draft Day," in which he sings the praises of QB and close friend Johnny Manziel. 'Johnny Football' wound up being a massive bust, getting bounced out of the NFL after two seasons.
  • August-September 2015: The 'Drake curse' begins after the rapper is seen kissing tennis superstar Serena Williams. He then attends the U.S. Open to witness her quest for the Grand Slam, but she collapses in epic fashion.
  • June 2016: Drake reportedly bets fellow rapper French Montanta $60,000 that the Warriors would beat the Cavaliers. LeBron James brings the 'land its first NBA championship.
  • October 2018: UFC star Connor McGregor brings Drake out before his match with Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov goes on to destroy McGregor.
  • January 2019: Drake makes a heavy bet on Alabama to win the College Football Playoff National Championship, and the Crimson Tide proceed to lose to Clemson 44-16. 
  • April 2019: Drake dons a Maples Leafs jersey in the playoffs and Toronto promptly loses to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
  • May 2019: Drake wears 76ers shorts while watching his Raptors face Philly in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Toronto goes on to eliminate Philadelphia on a wild, last-second Kawhi Leonard fall-away that bounced around the rim. 
  • August 2022: Drake bets $200,000 on Kamaru Usman to beat Leon Edwards at UFC 278. Edwards beats Usman.
  • November 2022: After Drake is seen holding up Team Canada jerseys alongside players, Team Canada becomes the first World Cup team since 1978 to attempt at least 20 shots and one penalty kick and not score a goal. 
  • December 2022: Drake bets Argentina to win the World Cup in regulation. France ties the World Cup just before the end of regulation and Argentina just barely pulls off the victory in a penalty-kick shootout. 
  • February 2023: Draft bets $400,000 on Jake Paul to KO Tyson Fury, but Fury wins in a split decision. 
  • April 2023: Drake puts a $1 million Crypto bet on personal friend Gervonta 'Tank' Davis to beat Ryan Garcia. Davis beat Garcia, a sigh of relief for Tank bettors.
  • June 2023Drake puts $1 million down on the Nuggets to win the 2023 NBA Finals, and an additional $250,000 on Denver winning in five games.

Has the Drake curse ever been debunked?

Of course, there have been plenty of instances in which Drake actually won bets.

Most recently, he won the $1 million wager he made on his buddy Gervonta "Tank" Davis to beat Ryan Garcia. He also won $2.7 million after betting on Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal at UFC 287. And he pulled in a significant payday on Super Bowl Sunday after backing the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.

Raptors fans can also attest to his curse being more smoke than fire, after his notorious courtside presence during Toronto's 2019 championship run. 

MORE: Drake's 'psychotic' Super Bowl bets on the Chiefs, explained

The 'Drake curse' is a fun betting-related story that has taken on an almost-mythical nature, but it's as real as the "Curse of the Bambino" was in Boston. In the end, Drake is a Grammy-winning artist who likes to bet but doesn't know much about betting, and he chooses to make high-stakes wagers on the most popular and highly-anticipated sports events in the world.

Oftentimes, Drake's unintentional MO seems to be 'bet big on big games, fall hard on your face.' Luckily for him, he has a bankroll a million times bigger than we could ever dream of ours becoming.

Where did Drake go wrong with his Nuggets wagering?

Drake could have done things a bit differently and saved himself a bunch of coin — or at least gotten more bang for his buck — by betting the series spread rather than the outright winner. By simply betting the Nuggets to win the Finals, Drake took on a ton of juice (over -420, to be exact). He was better off betting the Nuggets -1.5 (-175) or -2.5 (+120) — basically wagering on them to win in 4-6 games or 4-5 games — for a far better potential payout. Clearly Drake doesn't read Sporting News Bets.

Time will tell if the Nuggets lose three more games this series and the infamous legend of the 'Drake curse' lives on. For what it's worth, we still like Drake and the Nuggets' chances, considering it took a nearly-perfect fourth quarter effort from Miami to win Game 2 by just three points. Denver remains the better overall team, and has still won six of eight quarters against the Heat (not to mention seven of these teams' past eight meetings).

Don't lose hope yet, Drizzy! Maybe Nuggets in five — and the massive payday you will enjoy with that outcome — is all part of "God's Plan." 

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Sloan Piva is a content producer at The Sporting News.