Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/newsentadmin/newsenterprise.dreamhosters.com/wp-content/themes/editorial/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160

Years before Chip Rogers became majority leader in the Georgia Senate, the Woodstock Republican was “Will ‘The Winner’” Rogers, advising callers for a fee how to bet against the pointspread on pro and college football. Once billed as one of the nation’s “premier handicappers,” Rogers says today he was nothing more than on-air “talent” reading a script for a client. Our nine-month investigation – a collaboration with Atlanta Unfiltered – reveals how Rogers got started in the industry and how he met the veteran handicapper who would take a $2.2 million eyesore off his hands two decades later. The story appeared on Atlanta Unfiltered on May 25, 2012.

By David Michaels

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers loves sports. “Most people probably think my greatest interest centers on politics,” Rogers wrote in a 2010 magazine article. “They would be wrong.”

“My personal friends,” the Woodstock Republican wrote, “know of my lifelong, and intense, passion for football.”

Some of Rogers’ oldest friends, in fact, first knew him not as a politician but as a sports handicapper operating under the names the “Atlanta Assassin,” the “Mobile Man” or, most frequently, “Will ‘The Winner.’”

When Rogers ran for the House in 2002, Atlanta Unfiltered and The News Enterprise have learned, he’d used those monikers over the course of a decade as a sports handicapper in recorded phone messages and cable TV infomercials. In return for a fee that ranged from $10 to $25, Rogers provided picks on selected college and pro games.

The future senator presented himself as an experienced handicapper in TV spots, but Rogers said Thursday he was simply a talent for hire.

“My job was limited to television and voicework, which was the nature of my business,” Rogers wrote in an email. “I did not pick games, I was given a script.”

At the time, Rogers made no such distinction. On a 1999 TV show, the host introduced Rogers as one of the country’s “premier handicappers.” The host also stated that Rogers had been a handicapper “for over a decade.”

By the early 2000s, “Will ‘The Winner’ Rogers” and “Will Rogers Private Service” appeared on an NCAA list of sports “tout” services. The memo reminded athletes and staffers at member institutions not to share information with such services or with “individuals involved in organized gambling activities.”

Rogers, responding by email to a reporter’s questions, downplayed his role as being nothing more than a pitchman for a client of his broadcasting business. His duties, Rogers wrote, included appearing on a cable TV show on which “the discussions focused solely on football prognostication.”

Video recordings, court records and interviews with former colleagues paint a vivid picture of Rogers as a football handicapper starting in the early 1990s and as recently as 2000. On one cable TV show, Rogers repeatedly urged viewers to dial a pay-per-call number and guaranteed that bettors would have 80 percent success with his selections.

In Georgia, advertising a gambling operation has been illegal for decades. State officials in recent years have discussed whether to legalize some forms of gambling, and GOP voters will be asked this summer if [continue reading]

David Michaels is an intern with Atlanta Unfiltered and a recent graduate of Emory University where he studied journalism and political science. His email address is david.michaels18@gmail.com

Related stories: “Rogers Played Larger Role in Promoting Casino, Handicappers” and “News Enterprise Reporter’s Investigation Featured on Evening News

Tags:

Rep. Ed Lindsey: Charter School Point-Man

Reporter Nick Bradley of the News Enterprise provided primary research for this profile of Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta), a leading figure in […]

House Appropriations Chair Terry England

News Enterprise reporter Chelsea Cariker contributed research for this profile of Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), chair of the powerful House […]

News Enterprise Investigation Featured on Evening News

In response to the joint News Enterprise/Atlanta Unfiltered investigation of Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers’ sports handicapping career, Atlanta’s […]