Waiting For The Dough: Friendly Presidential Election Bet Turns Into Florida Lawsuit

Written By JR Duren on February 3, 2021 - Last Updated on February 4, 2021

Leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, Georgia resident Jeffrey Costa made a friendly wager with his Florida friend Sean Hynes.

Costa bet $100 that Joe Biden would defeat Donald Trump. Biden won, and like the incumbent on which the Florida man placed his money, Hynes refused to accept defeat.

Now, the two friends are mired in a civil suit, as Costa has sued Hynes for the original $100 bet, $250 in court fees and $300 in interest.

Astronomical APR aside, the lawsuit is at once shocking and not shocking.

Friendly wager turned sour as election dragged on

Surely a $100 bet among friends would be easy to settle, right? One winner. One loser. One payment. End of story.

Except it was not nearly that simple, according to a court transcript of a weekslong Facebook feud between Costa and Hynes.

The transcript, part of a series of documents filed in a Pinellas County small claims court, started with a civil, almost innocuous tone.

“So. . Shall we bet $50 or $100 so we don’t need escrow,” Hynes proposed at 10:45 p.m. on Nov. 2, just days before the election.

“Sure. Venmo for payment,” Costa responded. “$100 sounds right.”

The two agreed the bet was for the “actual seat of presidency,” which appeared set with a handshake emoji from Hynes at 8:44 a.m. the following morning.

Surely neither party knew the handshake would be broken by what turned out to be a wild election that dragged on for five days.

But Costa didn’t wait until that Saturday, when most major networks called the election, to ask for payment. He slid into Hynes DMs on Nov. 7 — a gusty move, no doubt — to request payment.

Hynes, resolute that his man was down but not out, responded with what became the first brick in a bitter wall between the two:

“Bro, the elections are determined by the courts, not the networks.”

Presidential election called, bet goes unpaid

On Nov. 13, Costa played what he thought was the knockout blow: a tweet from a New York Times reporter that featured an electoral map and the statement, “It’s final. Joe Biden 306, Donald Trump 232.”

Costa’s next words were an ultimatum of sorts.

“Time for you to pay up.”

Hynes didn’t respond for three days. But he finally broke his silence by saying he’d live up to his end of the bargain: “Sometime before the inauguration/Electoral college. :)…”

Costa badgered Hynes for the next month. Silence from Hynes.

Then, on Dec. 15, Hynes uncorked an eight-paragraph response that essentially said Congress will count the electoral votes Jan. 6 to officially determine the winner.

That was the final straw for Costa, who told Hynes he’d sue for the $100 plus court costs, fees, and damages.

“I am not joking,” he wrote the afternoon of Dec. 15.

Sure enough, 13 days later, Costa gave Hynes a belated Christmas present: a lawsuit.

Pre-trial hearing awaits for former friends

To no one’s surprise, Hynes has since unfriended Costa on Facebook.

As Costa told the Tampa Bay Times, the lawsuit represents more than just an unpaid debt. If Hynes did pay up, Costa said, he would drop the lawsuit. Said Costa:

“I also felt that if you’re going to live in a post-fact world, there are consequences to that.”

Alas, no payment has come through. And the suit remains.

The case is set for a March 10 pre-trial hearing.

Photo by AP / Madalyn Ruggiero
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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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