With Eurovision less than a month away, people have started to put their money where their mouth is and place bets on who win the 63rd Contest. The majority of early bets come from fans (and if the 2018 gossip mill is to be believed, from the Bulgarian delegation). Big money pours in at the start of May, when the fan bubble bursts and everyday gambling addicts remember it’s that time of year again.
But do the bookies always get it right? Let’s look back over recent years and see how often the votes follow the money.
2017 - Monkey madness
Last year, it was Francesco Gabbani’s contest to lose. And that’s exactly what he did. Right up until the Saturday night, pretty much everyone was sure there was no way he could do anything but give Italy their first post-hiatus victory. He was the odd-on favourite with the most YouTube views and topped every poll. When he took to the stage – complete with a much reported Gorilla - the magic faded. Even though it was the song everyone knew, things didn’t connect, and Francesco ended in sixth place.
2016 - Not the only one
Francesco's fate was similar to the one that befell Russian Sergey Lazarev - another sure-fire winner with his Eurovision-by-numbers song in 2016. He took to the stage with odds of 5/9. The eventual victor – Jamala who sang for Ukraine with '1944' – was widely ranked third, having started rehearsal week as an outsider. It was only when fan sites filed favourable reports that her odds fell. Even so, on the big night, more punters saw (runner-up) Australia as a safer bet.
2015 - Local hero
Did Sergey suffer special effects fatigue? His staging relied on an LED wall to detract from a rather ordinary song. In 2015, Måns Zelmerlöw romped home by throwing every trick in the book at 'Heroes'. It was one of those years when the odds followed the votes. At 11/8 with most bookmakers, he was the runaway favourite, although a flurry of last-minute bets saw Russian Polina Gagarina edge into second place. Early support for (eventual televoter favourite) Italy slipped away, moving them into third by 8pm on the Saturday.
2014 - Undo her sad
His win made up for what happened in 2014, when the shortest odds honour went to fellow-Swede Sanna Nielsen. She had been the early favourite, closely followed by Armenian Aram Mp3. The semi-finals changed everything. The Austrian winner - Conchita Wurst - moved from midfield outsider into second place. Two months earlier, bookies had offered 250/1 on a Dutch victory, but The Common Linnets saw their odds slashed within minutes. Sanna continued to lead with bookmakers offering odds of around 5/2, while Aram drifted to fourth. Ultimately Sanna ended in third with the Armenian song trailing in fourth.
2013 - No more tears
The bookies had things bang to rights in 2013. 19-year-old Emmelie de Forest was singing for Denmark and everyone was sure she would win. Her odds dropped to 1/8 ahead of the show, with reports suggesting that of all punters placing a Eurovision bet, a quarter had chosen 'Only Teardrops'. Norway trailed with Margaret Berger on 5/1, while Ukraine stood at 9/1.
2018 - Toying with victory?
Looking ahead to May, will Netta suffer like Francesco Gabbani? Does over-exposure mean voters tire of a song by the big night? It was never a problem when nobody much outside the fan bubble heard the songs in advance, but being odds-on favourite attracts attention, and exposes a song to huge markets. Gabbani chalked up over 100 million streams ahead of the 2017 Contest. Maybe the professional juries look at who is tipped to win and vote for someone else, thinking their support unnecessary.
Will Lisbon bring us a 2013 result or echo 2017?
Rehearsals start soon, and OnEurope will be on the spot bringing you reports from the hall, telling it how we see it - and sharing video where possible to help guide your predictions.
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