SAN DIEGO mayor Jerry Sanders has been a gamblin' man this month. After the Chargers beat the Colts in the wild-card playoffs, he collected an order of shrimp cocktail from Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. And last Friday, after the Chargers' divisional-round loss to the Steelers, Sanders paid off Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl by posing in a polar exhibit at SeaWorld in a Steelers jersey. "It was 20 degrees in the Penguin Encounter, a lot like Pittsburgh," Sanders said. "When I walked outside, it was a perfect San Diego day.... In San Diego, even when we lose, we win." Not every political sports wager has worked out so well.
Following the Gators' win over the Sooners in the BCS title game, Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn honors a bet with Florida senator Bill Nelson (below) and sings Elton John's Rocket Man in front of staffers and TV cameras. ( Nelson, who would have had to sing
Oklahoma! if he lost, chose the song because he flew on the space shuttle in 1986.) Coburn's daughter Sarah is an acclaimed opera singer but, judging by Coburn's trouble with some high notes, the talent is not inherited. " Elton John is a little tough," he said.
Before the Emerald Bowl, Miami mayor Manny Diaz promises San Francisco's Gavin Newsom several bags of Florida oranges if the Hurricanes lose to Cal. The Bears win, but Newsom is denied his jolt of vitamin C: It's illegal to ship Florida oranges to California (to keep a citrus canker that often attacks Sunshine State crops from spreading west). Diaz pays with stone crab claws instead. "We assumed they knew what regulations their state had," his spokesperson said. "And we expected to win anyway."
Before the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals, L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose town is short an NFL franchise, makes an odd proposal to Boston mayor Tom Menino: Boston gets the Arena Football League's L.A. Avengers if the Celtics win, L.A. gets the Patriots if the Lakers triumph. The idea is a nonstarter for Menino, who counterproposes that L.A. just give Boston the Staples Center. Says Hizzoner, "We could use the extra space for all of our banners."
Florida drubs Ohio State for the BCS title. The 41--14 final is bad news for Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, who had a wager with Sen. Nelson—him again—that the loser would do a pushup for every point scored. On the floor of Nelson's office Brown (top) knocks out the first 30, rests, then struggles through 13 more before stopping. A gracious Nelson gets down and finishes the set for him.