Jim Costa, Mike Valenti Providing ‘Wagertainment’ For Michigan Sports Bettors On Cash The Ticket Podcast

Written By Drew Ellis on September 20, 2022

In the growing world of ‘wagertainment,’ Jim Costa wants to make sure he gives you the most for your money.

The Livonia native and studio host at 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit has joined Mike Valenti as co-host of the relaunched podcast, Cash The Ticket.

Each week Costa and Valenti are breaking down college football and NFL games for your listening pleasure.

For sports bettors in Michigan, the two are also putting their money where their mouth is and wagering on the games they select.

What is Cash The Ticket?

Cash The Ticket is a podcast produced by Audacy. It is available on the Audacy app, and all the ways you get your podcasts.

Whether interested in College Football odds or NFL odds, Cash The Ticket has you covered.

Costa and Valenti provide three full weekly episodes, while adding in short bonus episodes on additional games as they see fit.

The three reoccurring weekly episodes are:

  • Monday: Recapping the football weekend
  • Thursday: College Football Picks
  • Friday: NFL Picks

Even if you aren’t much of a sports bettor yourself, Costa and Valenti provide an entertaining approach to discussing their picks.

“No matter what you are doing, if it is just talking about sports or talking about betting, you have to do it in an entertaining way. I think that’s something that Mike and I do well. With our backgrounds, I feel like we know our stuff and we know how to deliver it in an entertaining way,” Costa said. “When you look at the future of ‘wagertainment,’ the emphasis is always going to be on the entertainment part of it. In betting, you’re going to have your good days and bad. You just want to know that the people providing the information are doing their homework and providing you with some entertainment. So, it’s important for us that we are giving you a solid form of entertainment when you choose to spend your time listening to us.”

Costa’s chemistry with Mike Valenti

Costa is still in the infancy stages of his time in Detroit media (a little more than 18 months). However, he has partnered with arguably the biggest name in sports media in the state.

Valenti has hosted his own radio program on 97.1 The Ticket since 2004. While not afraid to challenge his peers and their takes, Valenti and Costa formed a bond early in Costa’s arrival in Detroit.

“Mike has been really great to me since the day I joined the station. He’s super talented and everyone knows that, but he really is a super nice guy,” Costa said. “I think people would be surprised at just how nice he is. On the radio he can come off really gruff, but he’s been very good to me and very supportive of my work.”

Valenti originally launched the Cash The Ticket podcast in 2019. The pandemic played a big role in causing it to be put on hold. This fall, he wanted to bring it back and felt Costa was the perfect co-host to join him.

“I think he would have loved to have never stopped doing it, but I’m sure the pandemic played a factor. I won’t pretend to know anything else behind-the-scenes beyond that. When I joined the station, he talked about wanting to resurrect it. Last fall, we had a lot of phone calls talking about games and bets and this year we just were able to put that together into a podcast,” Costa said.

One thing is clear, the two are enjoying recording the show.

“It’s something I really enjoy. It’s definitely one of the highlights of my week,” Costa said. “The response has been incredible since we launched. My favorite response that I get is that it sounds like we are having fun doing it, and that is incredibly true. The fact that people can tell listening that this is something we are really passionate about is something I’m proud of.”

Costa, Valenti putting their money where their mouth is

Any time you decide to have a sports betting podcast, it puts added pressure on what you have to say.

Costa takes that to heart and puts in the work when making his selections. Both he and Valenti make sure they wager on the games they announce on Cash The Ticket.

“Everything I pick on Cash The Ticket, I am playing. I don’t appreciate anyone else in the industry that gives out picks and doesn’t play them,” Costa said. “To me, riding that roller coaster is authentic. If I had a great week, it’s genuine. If I have an awful week, I own it and it’s genuine.”

Thus far into the 2022 season, both Costa and Valenti are having success with their NFL picks, while still finding their footing in the college football world.

They also both make it clear their picks are suggestions and not a path to becoming filthy rich.

“We will never promise to get people rich. Mike always says that we won’t be getting you your retirement fund. If you are listening to someone that claims that they can and they have all these locks, I think it is dishonest and problematic. That’s not what we do,” Costa said. “We are competitive guys. We want to get it right, and I think that comes across, but if we miss, we own it.”

Costa approaches each week with a few key things in mind. He believes more sports bettors should take a similar approach.

First is to look at the matchup yourself and come up with your initial feelings. Then take a look at what the sportsbook lists for a spread.

“A good exercise I always try to use is look at the game, and in your head determine what you think the spread should be. Then, see what the books set it at. That will give you an idea if you have a good feel for the game and the matchup,” Costa said. “Also pay attention to if any of the lines are moving dramatically. There’s usually a pretty important reason for that.”

Second, Costa believes you need to commit to a betting amount for each pick that is within your means. Be consistent with your wager amount and make sure it’s an amount you can afford to lose.

“People don’t set a unit for themselves to play. I think that’s the most common mistake,” Costa said. “Pick a unit amount that you are comfortable with and play that consistently. I always stress to people to just bet what they are willing to lose. It’s like going to Vegas and setting aside an entertainment budget for the casinos. If you make money, great, but if you don’t, you simply lost what you budgeted.”

Costa thriving back home

A Livonia native and Central Michigan University graduate, Costa made a name for himself spending more than four years working in the Grand Rapids radio market.

In 2020, Costa got the call that he had been waiting for. He was offered a chance to come home and work for 97.1 The Ticket, a place he had interned at previously.

“I love coming home to metro Detroit and being on 97.1 The Ticket. It all has worked out really well for me,” Costa said. “I have great memories from hosting the afternoon drive in Grand Rapids, but I always had thoughts about working in Detroit and getting closer to home.”

Costa started as a fill-in host when regulars were unavailable. He quickly showed his ability to seamlessly work with a variety of other hosts in the last 18 months.

He now is also the studio host for the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons games. Always staying busy, Costa has now added the podcast to the mix.

Costa has always been intrigued by sports betting. He received the ultimate birthday present in 2021 when online betting was legalized on Jan. 22.

“(Online) sports betting became legal in Michigan on my birthday, which was awesome. I had always done picks segments on the radio and picked against the spread, but when it became legal on your phone, it became more accessible,” Costa said. “For me, it’s made these games more fun. I’m more engaged in more games now. It took something that I already loved and made me love it more.”

To listen to Costa and Valenti on Cash The Ticket, use the Audacy app or wherever you get your podcasts.


Screenshot from Cash The Ticket Podcast.

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Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis is currently the Lead Writer of PlayILottery.com. He was the former Lead Writer of PlayMichigan, the No. 1 source for online gambling news in Michigan. A lifelong resident of the state, Ellis has been working in various forms of media since 1998, including more than a decade in the sports betting industry prior to transitioning into US casino markets in 2020.

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