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Are Animals Any Good at Picking Super Bowl Winners?

by Scott Kacsmar
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Fiona the Hippo

Everyone has a Super Bowl prediction these days. Even the animals have been getting in on the action in the social media era. Many zoos post videos or stories of animals ranging from bears to manatees to orangutans making their Super Bowl pick, which usually involves pointing to a helmet or eating something with a team logo on it.

A zoo animal might not be able to tell us if Mahomes can be the GOAT or if Brock Purdy is the real deal, but it can still find a way to pick a winner. With the way the Super Bowls have been going with underdogs winning outright 7 of the last 11 times, who are we to criticize the process? Anything can happen these days when making your bets at top sportsbooks.

But have any animals at least gone on a decent run of picking winners? We scoured the internet for tales of animals making the rest of us look bad in the NFL predicting business.

Only in Florida: Manatee Half-Brothers Split on Super Bowl Success

Leave it to Florida to find its way in this story. In Sarasota, there is a Mote Marine Laboratory with a pair of half-brother manatees named Buffett and Hugh. They have apparently been making their Super Bowl predictions annually for over 15 years now.

Buffett is the one to trust as he has gone 11-4 with his Super Bowl predictions, including a pick of the Chiefs last year in Super Bowl LVII. But Hugh has gone against his half-brother too many times and usually regrets it as he is 6-9. He was on the Eagles last year, so you could say he was the Jason Kelce in that comparison to Buffett’s Travis.

Both were on the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, but they apparently didn’t spend enough time researching Aaron Donald going up against that Cincinnati offensive line.

But let’s give Buffett some props for starting on a 6-year run of correct answers in 2007-12 given that was one of the more unpredictable eras of Super Bowl results:

  • The Giants upset the Patriots not once but twice, including the big one in Super Bowl XLII as a 2-touchdown underdog.
  • The Saints were an underdog to Peyton Manning’s Colts, who did not lose a game that year where the starters played the distance. New Orleans came back to win 31-17.
  • The 2012 Ravens were an underdog against San Francisco, but after road upsets of Manning’s Broncos and Tom Brady’s Patriots, Joe Flacco was not going to be denied, and neither was Ray Lewis in his final game. Baltimore won 34-31.

Just about any human being using logic would not have gone 6-0 during that stretch of Super Bowls.

Has Hugh learned his lesson betting against Patrick Mahomes? Can Buffett improve to 12-4? We’ll have to keep an eye on the Mote Marine Laboratory before the big game for their latest prediction.

In Honor of Eli

At the Hogle Zoo in Utah, there was an orangutan named Elijah (Eli) who predicted 7 straight Super Bowl winners, which would have included the two years that Eli Manning shocked the New England Patriots in the 2007 and 2011 seasons.

Unfortunately, Eli died from breast cancer in 2014. He left behind a family, who also tried getting into the prediction business with Super Bowl 50. But Tuah backed the Panthers, who lost, while his older sister was correct after she placed a Denver Broncos helmet on her head.

You could say that the orangutan family were huge fans of the Manning brothers.

Nicholas the Bandwagon Dolphin

There is a 21-year-old dolphin named Nicholas who has been living at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida since he was a baby. He is a big sports fan as he not only picks the Super Bowl each year, but he also has a history of picks for the World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, and NCAA National Championships.

Lately, his Super Bowl picks have not been too hot at 3-4 going back to 2017. But the most amusing part is that he picked Tom Brady and the Patriots each time in 2017-18 before moving on to picking Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs each time in 2019, 2020, and 2022.

You could say Nicholas has gone from one bandwagon to another, and it would be a surprise if he picked anyone but the Chiefs this year.

Fiona the Hippo Loves Lettuce, Hates Chalk

Fiona the Hippo is a fan favorite at the Cincinnati Zoo. She started predicting Super Bowl winners with the 2017 season and seems to have a strong liking of underdogs, or maybe she just finds it so boring to go with chalk picks like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes this time of year.

Fiona correctly predicted that Nick Foles and the Eagles would upset Brady’s Patriots in Super Bowl LII. But a year later, she backed Jared Goff and the Rams to beat the Patriots, and that snoozer did not go well as the Rams lost 13-3.

That game was so dull that it might have soured Fiona’s love of football as she could barely yawn out her prediction the following year when it was the first Chiefs vs. 49ers matchup in Super Bowl LIV. Fiona appeared to yawn and pick the Chiefs, but not before spitting out a bunch of lettuce.

The following year, Fiona gave the Kansas City bucket a whiff before ultimately going with Brady and the Buccaneers, learning her lesson that Brady’s voodoo luck is unbeatable when you pick against him. She thought she’d try a reverse jinx but it did not work. Mahomes and the Chiefs scored 9 points and he was pressured 29 times, a Super Bowl record.

With Cincinnati facing the Rams in the next Super Bowl, you had to figure Fiona would go full homer and back the Bengals even though that secondary was no match for Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, and that offensive line was certainly no match for Aaron Donald and Von Miller.

Last year, Fiona was consistent as she again went with the underdog Chiefs to beat the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. That brings her Super Bowl record to 4-2, but her most predictive trait is she’ll pick the underdog as she’s done 5-of-6 times.

Does that mean another vote of confidence for the Chiefs this year? The animal kingdom will let us know before February 11.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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