The $1 billion tipping competition

January 23, 2014, 10:38 pm

American business magnate Warren Buffett is offering an incredible $1 billion if someone can make the ultimate sports prediction.

So what sport do you need to be an expert in to pocket the cash? The football World Cup? The Wimbledon tennis championship?

Alas no – it is US college basketball!

College basketball in the United States is one of the more popular 'betting' sports in the States, even though gambling is still illegal in the vast majority of the country.

More specifically the national college basketball tournament – nicknamed 'March Madness' – is what sparks such interest.

The tournament is competed for in the form of a 'bracket' where all the teams are seeded, not dissimilar to a tennis tournament, and split into four regions. First plays 16, eight plays ninth each region and they then play on down until the winner of each region makes up the 'Final Four'.

There are a few qualification games, but it is essentially a 64-team tournament, and throughout offices, clubs and homes, people fill out their brackets and try and beat their friends and colleagues, with the person with the most accurate bracket usually winning a prize.

It is such a national tradition that even the President usually fills out a bracket.

Now up steps Buffett who is insuring the event for a company called Quicken Loans, and will offer $1bn to anybody who successfully fills out a 'perfect bracket' for the 2014 tournament.

That means correctly forecasting 67 games, which as you can imagine, is pretty unlikely.

The odds of winning the Grand Prize are believed to be 4,294,967,296-1. Even somebody who was an expert in both gambling and college basketball would be looking at odds of over one billion to one. While last year, when there were a number of shock results, the figure was actually 9,223,372,036,854,775,808-1.

If somebody does strike it incredibly lucky, they would be given the option of 40 annual payments of $25m or a lump sum of $500m

Quicken will also award $100,000 each to the contest's 20 most accurate brackets.

So what's in for them?

From the LA Times:

Jay Farner, Quicken's president and marketing chief, said his company would benefit from the contest in two ways — news coverage and access to the email addresses of millions of potential customers. Anyone who enters the contest will have the option of receiving email offers from Quicken, he said.

"The more familiar Americans are with Quicken Loans, what we're really about, the higher probability they'll close a loan with us," Farner said. "We wouldn't be investing the money, energy and time if we didn't think it would be worthwhile."

Meanwhile, Buffett, who is worth an estimated $58bn, will receive the insurance premium from Quicken, the amount of which he refused to reveal.

"If I were Warren Buffett, anything over $10m, I would probably do it," Ezra Miller, a Duke University mathematics professor, told the LA Times.

"If $1m were going to ruin me, I wouldn't. But it's not going to ruin Warren Buffett."

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  1. Wiseoldman07:10am Saturday 25th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    Moniker, it is NOT unwinnable, just very improbable. No matter what the odds, they are just odds and that means there is a chance no matter how slim. Boy John shake the chip loose. How much do you give if you are that concerned? This guy worked harder than you ever will for many years and used his smarts, now he enjoys it, whats wrong with that, you would.

  2. Nick11:18pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    Damn, I'd put a billion on Duke.

  3. Moniker10:31pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    John. It's not a waste because you're missing the point. It's unwinnable and he knows it, because he understands probability. See the figure? 4,294,967,296-1 and last year 9,223,372,036,854,775,808-1 Besides, he's acting as an insurer to a competition run by Quicken Loans, it is they who are actually running the competition. It is he who pay out if their competition is won, and he's getting paid an insurance premium . If he is a bully, so is ANY other insurance company in the world that accepts premiums to cover low probability events, like Lloyds of London. What you are getting pulled up on is the statement "Over moneyed bully". That isn't true and my reason for answering you still stands. You're attempt to back-pedal about 'waste' doesn't work. Maybe you should re-read the article, you've not understood it.

  4. John09:45pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    Mr Moniker, it's still a waste of a billion.

  5. Moniker08:59pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    John. Anyone with even an inkling of knowledge about Buffett would know he pledged, in 2006, to give virtually his whole fortune to charity. In fact he made the biggest charitable donation in history with a value of $31 Billion. When his wife died in 2004 her whole 2.6 billion went to charity. Please try at least a little research before you expose your prejudices like that

  6. John06:39pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    Over moneyed bully, that would feed millions for a few weeks, or provide decent drinking water for millions for months, or buy education for many thousands, or create thousands of useful jobs in scientific research. Or fund first prize in the Robert Edward Jones #$%$ grunter of the year awards.

  7. Hairy Angus05:25pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    A Billion Dollars ???...I was expecting something like 'The next Pocket Billiard Champion" for that prize money

  8. Terry03:55pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    So Yahoo doesn't like abbreviated forms of Pakistan

  9. Terry03:51pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    The #$%$ bookies will have it covered.

  10. Bluje02:59pm Friday 24th January 2014 NZDTReport Abuse

    Pity it wasn't cricket, Jordon would have that prediction easily sussed




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