- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Virginia radio show host John Fredericks told Donald Trump in April 2015 that he could win the Republican nomination if he got into the presidential race — and said he got ridiculed.

But Mr. Fredericks put his money where his mouth was, buying shares on Mr. Trump in the political predictions markets at 100-1 odds to win the nomination and 200-1 odds to win the White House. He is now looking at a major payday if Mr. Trump can pull off a Hail Mary comeback.

“I don’t do ‘I told you so,’ but obviously I’m in the prediction business, so I’m not shy about telling people when I’m right, and I do have a high percentage of being right, as you know,” said Mr. Fredericks, who is now vice chairman of Mr. Trump’s Virginia campaign.

A sort of fantasy league for politicos, predictions markets have become features of campaigns in recent years. PredictIt, the market Mr. Fredericks used, launched three days before the 2015 midterm elections, and now boasts 150,000 traders who have signed up, including about 70,000 who are active.

This year’s crazy race has given them plenty to worry about.

On the one hand is Hillary Clinton, who was the front-runner from the start but struggled to survive a weak Democratic field. Then there was Mr. Trump, the bombastic political novice who managed to outlast 16 other candidates to win the Republican nomination.

Jimmy Wagner, a lawyer from the New York City area who recently won more than $20,000 playing fantasy football, has about $750 on Mr. Trump to win the general election.

But he hedged his bets early in the Republican primary race by also putting cash on Sen. Rand Paul.

“I do believe in the message that both of those nominees were speaking about, and that’s sort of what makes my mind up when I’m looking to buy into one of these political stocks,” he said.

Like Mr. Fredericks, Mr. Wagner said some in the online community weren’t buying his early bullishness on Mr. Trump.

“PredictIt has a really vibrant community — a lot of very smart people in it — but a lot of them are trolls,” he said. “There are a lot of trolls. … I got called a lot of crazy things.”

Joel Krautter, a lawyer from Montana, said he didn’t put all of his early money on Mr. Trump. He said he also had some on former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — the antithesis of the billionaire businessman.

Mr. Krautter also wagered that Vice President Joseph R. Biden would ultimately enter the race for the Democratic nomination.

“I’m not some great forecaster,” he said.

Mr. Krautter said a 2011 poll showing Mr. Trump running competitively in a would-be Republican field, as well as his outsider status and commanding media presence, led him to believe that the businessman and reality TV star could be a compelling candidate.

“But with everything that’s happened, I didn’t see it going all the way that it has. It’s kind of amazing,” he said.

“I’m a Republican. I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton, but I’m still undecided on who I’m voting for, given all the comments that have been made along the way,” he said.

In contrast to Mr. Wagner, Mr. Krautter said he invested about $2 in each candidate.

Mr. Fredericks, meanwhile, declined to say how much money he has on his boss to win. He called it “inside baseball.”

Mr. Trump has sagged in public polling in the wake of last week’s revelation of a 2005 tape in which the Republican nominee said he tried but failed to seduce a married celebrity, and talked about groping women’s genitals. He has since apologized for what he called “locker room” talk.

Paddy Power, an Irish bookmaker, had Mrs. Clinton at 1-5 odds to win after the debate — her shortest odds to date, according to the bookmaker.

On Tuesday, PredictIt shares for Mrs. Clinton to win the White House were trading at 82 cents, compared with 20 cents for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Wagner said the recent news doesn’t change his thinking but if an investor was not comfortable buying Trump stock, they could sell an inflated Clinton position that he predicted would drop as Election Day nears.

“This is a very close race that is not reflected in the price of Trump Stock,” he said in an email Tuesday.

Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.

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