Sports

Mickelson: In recovery, not betting on football

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson said he isn’t wagering on football games this season as he continues to recover from a gambling addiction.

Mickelson’s statement on social media Monday comes about a month after professional gambler Billy Walters alleged in a book that Mickelson bet more than $1 billion on football, basketball and baseball over the past 30 years.

“Most of you will enjoy this football season with moderation while having lots of fun and entertainment,” Mickelson wrote. “The fantasy leagues will provide banter amongst friends and money won or lost betting won’t affect you. I won’t be betting this year because I crossed the line of moderation and into addiction which isn’t any fun at all.

“The money wasn’t ever the issue since our financial security has never been threatened, but I was so distracted I wasn’t able to be present with the ones I love and caused a lot of harm. This lack of presence has been so hurtful.”

Mickelson, 53, said that throughout his gambling addiction he has been told, “You’re here but you’re not with us.”

“It affected those I care about in ways I wasn’t aware or could fully understand,” Mickelson wrote. “It’s like a hurricane is going on outside and I’m isolated in a shelter oblivious to what was happening. When I came out there was so much damage to clean up that I just wanted to go back inside and not deal with it.”

In the book, “Gambler: Secrets from a Life of Risk,” Walters alleged that Mickelson made 858 wagers of $220,000 and 1,115 bets of $110,000 from 2010 to 2014. Walters estimated that Mickelson lost about $100 million while betting more than $1 billion over the past three decades.

Walters also alleged that Mickelson attempted to place a $400,000 wager on Team USA in the 2012 Ryder Cup in which he was competing. Mickelson denied trying to bet on the Ryder Cup.

According to Walters’ book, he met Mickelson at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The two formed a betting partnership in 2008, which gave Walters access to offshore sportsbook accounts Mickelson used to place big wagers.

Walters and Mickelson stopped their partnership in spring 2014, when it was revealed that federal authorities were looking into a series of stock trades they each had made. They had a falling-out after Mickelson refused to testify in an ensuing insider trading case against Walters. In April 2017, Walters was convicted on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud and sentenced to five years in federal prison. His sentence was eventually commuted by then-President Donald Trump.

“If you ever cross the line of moderation and enter into addiction, hopefully you won’t confuse your enablers as friends like I did,” Mickelson said. “Hopefully you won’t have to deal with these difficult moments publicly so others can profit off you like I have.” Mickelson credited his wife, Amy, with helping him address his addiction. He wrote that he has received professional help for many years.

“She has loved me and supported me through my darkest and most difficult times,” Mickelson wrote. “I couldn’t have gotten through this without her. I’m so grateful for her strength in helping us get through the many challenges I’ve created for us. Because of her love, support, and commitment, I’m back on track to being the person I want to be.”

ESPN staff writer David Purdum contributed to this report.

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