Rider alum hits big on NFL parlay

By Benjamin Shinault

During a week-16 matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey put the final nail in the coffin for an incredible 14-leg parlay and stunning Christmas gift that paid Rider alum Travis Dufner, $489,000. 

Dufner, 32, grew up in Monroe Township, New Jersey, graduating from Rider in 2017 with a degree in finance. Dufner now works as a financial advisor at Millstone Financial Group; however, when the weekend comes around, he switches to football mode.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a person with a high level of sports knowledge, especially with football,” Dufner said.

The elite level of sports knowledge came into play for Dufner when he decided to put some skin in the game for the Christmas set of football games.

All previous legs of Dufner’s parlay hit and the only obstacle in his way from hitting a large jackpot laid all upon McCaffrey.

“It was Christmas day, my wife and I were at her parents house…we were watching the other games at my in-laws,” Dufner said. “We were all pretty calm for the most part just because it was Christian McCaffrey, we were all kind of like, ‘If anyone’s going to do it, it’s going to be him.’” 

Dufner delved deeper into what the emotions were like in his head when he was anxiously waiting for McCaffrey to cross the plain and to ultimately give Dufner a big win.

“It got really nerve racking because San Francisco was really struggling against Baltimore … so we were all like, ‘This is getting rough,’” Dufner said with a smile. “McCaffrey broke a 30 or 40-yard run to get them down to inside the 10 and then it was the very next play that he wound up scoring.”

When McCaffrey got into the end zone, the room exploded around him. Dufner went on to give details on what the feeling was like both in his head and in the basement of his moms house.

“My first reaction was … we have to watch the replay,” Dufner said.

His first step was to make sure there were no flags. The next was to make sure his knees weren’t down and elbows didn’t hit the ground.

“Because if that happened and they do a quarterback sneak, I’m going to kill someone,” Dufner said with a laugh. 

When the news got out about Dufner’s huge hit, every media outlet up the stream contacted Dufner to hear about his story.

“It would have been easier to tell you which ones didn’t, it was everybody,” Dufner said. “The Wall Street Journal, ABC, obviously DraftKings and Bleacher Report, News 12 New Jersey and I was on CNBC.” 

The days following the big parlay hit, Dufner stated that people would always reach out to him to see what his picks were looking like for the week.

“It was a crazy week after that, it really was just like everybody wanted to talk, everyone wanted to follow whatever picks I had coming up,” Dufner said. 

Dufner still posts his picks, props and parlays on his Instagram but he states that will not pursue anything further or anything larger within the ever-growing sports betting industry.

“It was cool but as a financial advisor, I can’t really make money off doing this,” Dufner said. “I can’t sell picks, I can’t have a sports betting page endorsing me, you would just give off the wrong vibes.”

Dufner went on to say that he does sports betting for fun and just likes to have some money on the game when he sits on the couch and flicks the games on.

“I’m only doing five to 10 dollar bets, it’s not like I’m some degenerate gambler where I’m losing all my money or have an issue with it at all,” Dufner said.

Now when it comes to spending the big win, being a financial adviser comes in handy as Dufner has an extensive list of what he wants to do with his big hit and what he has already done.

“Everyone is getting a boring answer from me, I’m doing the right thing with my money and I’m investing it,” Dufner said. “I paid off student loans for myself and my wife… we got some work done on the house that we bought a few years ago, I paid my car down.”

Dufner continued with, “I bought myself a Rolex, I’ve always wanted to spoil myself with that and one vacation, me and my wife have always wanted to go to Aruba together … and like I said, the rest of it is invested.” 

Sports betting is based on luck and it takes little to no skill, Dufner added.

“I’m just your average guy, nothing special, it can happen to anybody and I’m not saying it’s going to because the odds are it’s not going to.”

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