The stakes for March Madness brackets this year went up just a little beyond winning office pools and bragging rights at the water cooler, as billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Detroit-based Quicken Loans have cooked up an extremely tempting, and nearly unwinnable, offer for sports fans.
On Tuesday, Buffett and Quicken announced a $1 billion prize for anyone who can correctly predict the winners of all the games in the NCAA men's basketball championship tournament. And, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) will insure the prize money offered by Quicken for an undisclosed amount.
“This will be the most fun. Just imagine if there’s one person left (with a perfect bracket) at the last game,” Buffett told Los Angeles Times. “I will go to that final game with him or her, and I’ll have a check in my pocket. ... I think we’ll be rooting for different teams.”
Registration for the contest, which is limited to the first 10 million entries, will begin March 3, the Los Angeles Times reported, adding that Quicken will award $100,000 each to the contest’s 20 most accurate, but imperfect brackets, to be used toward buying, refinancing or remodeling a home.
The report cited Ezra Miller, a mathematics professor at Duke University, as saying that the chances of even a skilled sports handicapper winning the billion-dollar price would be one in a billion.
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And, if one person does submit the perfect bracket, he or she can choose to take home the prize money in 40 annual payments of $25 million each, or opt for a lump sum payment of $500 million. If there are multiple winners, the prize money would be split evenly, according to the LA Times.
“Millions of people play brackets every March, so why not take a shot at becoming $1 billion richer for doing so?” Buffett told the LA Times. “While there is no simple path to success, it sure doesn’t get much easier than filling out a bracket online.”