Phil Mickelson shares his story of gambling addiction to warn bettors during football season: ‘I was so distracted’

Football season is in full swing and LIV golf star Phil Mickelson wants to make sure all fans enjoy this time of year responsibly.

For many fans, betting on football, whether through sportsbooks or fantasy leagues, is common. Mickelson doesn't knock some bets on those who want to enjoy the games, but he does warn those who might take it a step too far.

Mickelson, a recovering gambling addict, posted a long, powerful post on X, formerly Twitter, urging bettors to be smart this football season.


Phil Mickelson in Los Angeles

Football season is in full swing and LIV golf star Phil Mickelson wants to make sure all fans enjoy this time of year responsibly. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images/File)

“Most of you will enjoy this football season in moderation with plenty of fun and entertainment,” Mickelson began. “The fantasy leagues will provide jokes between friends and winning or losing money bets will have no impact on you. I [won't] I bet this year it's because I've crossed the line of moderation and fallen into an addiction that's no fun at all. Money was never the problem as our financial security was never in jeopardy, but I was so distracted not being able to be with those I love caused so much damage.”

“That lack of presence was so hurtful. ‘You are here, but you are not with us,' I was told many times throughout my addiction,” he continued. “It affected the people I care about in ways I wasn’t aware of or couldn’t fully understand. It's like there's a hurricane raging outside and I'm isolated in a shelter, oblivious to what's happening. When I came out there was so much damage. “To clean up, I just wanted to go back in and not deal with it.”

“If you ever cross the line of moderation and fall into addiction, hopefully you won’t mistake your enablers for friends like I did. “Hopefully you don't have to deal with these difficult moments publicly so that others like me can benefit from you,” Mickelson wrote. “But hopefully you have a strong and supportive partner who is willing to help you be your worst self and get through your worst moments, like I did with Amy. She loved me and supported me through my darkest and most difficult times. I couldn't have gotten through this without her. I am so grateful for her strength in helping us overcome the many challenges I created for us. Thanks to her love, support and commitment, I am back on track to being the person I want to be.

“After many years of receiving professional help, not gambling, and recovering from addiction, I am now able to sit still, be present in the moment, and live each day with inner calm and peace. “I still have a lot to take care of the people I love the most, but I'm doing it slowly and as best as I can,” he continued.

Phil Mickelson at the British Open

Phil Mickelson plays his shot from the fifth tee during a practice round before the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 19, 2023 in Hoylake, England. (Stuart Kerr/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

“This football season and beyond, enjoy yourself with moderation so that your ability to be present is not compromised. In my experience, the moments with your loved ones will be remembered far more than any bet won or fantasy league triumph.”

Between 2 and 4 million Americans suffer from gambling addiction each year. These players cannot stop betting their wages despite the consequences.

While Mickelson noted that he didn't impact his family financially by being on the PGA Tour and winning big all those years before joining LIV Golf, other gambling addicts can't say the same. The loss of money could have detrimental effects on all levels.


Mickelson was recently accused by a former employee, Billy Walters, of betting more than $1 billion on various football, basketball and baseball games over the past 30 years. Walters wrote in a new book called “Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk” that Mickelson even asked an employee to place a $400,000 bet on the U.S. team winning the 2012 Ryder Cup because he thought they couldn't lose.

Mickelson disputed this claim in Walters' book, saying, “I would never undermine the integrity of the game.”

He also noted how open he was about his gambling addiction.

“I have previously expressed my remorse, taken responsibility, gotten help, fully committed to therapy that has had a positive impact on me, and I feel good about where I am now,” Mickelson wrote on X.

Phil Mickelson gives a thumbs up

Phil Mickelson is shown on the 18th hole during the first round of the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club on June 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Mickelson's gambling habits have been in the public eye for the past decade. Court documents from 2015 revealed that nearly $3 million was transferred from Mickelson to a third party as part of an “illegal gambling operation,” according to ESPN. He was reportedly linked to a suspected mafia bookmaker in 2007. He was not charged in any of these cases.

Mickelson was also involved in an insider trading scandal in 2014 along with Walters. The latter was convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud in 2017, while Mickelson was not charged in the matter. He settled a civil case with the SEC and turned over profits he made on trades, according to Golf Digest.


If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER, the national problem gambling helpline network.

Fox News' Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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