If you’re not a basketball fan you might want to become one by March 3rd. That’s the official kick off for a contest worth a billion dollars- yes $1,000,000,000.00 – to any contestant who correctly predicts the winners of all 67 March Madness games.
March Madness is a single-elimination basketball tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams, to determine the national championship of the major college basketball teams. The tournament is organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The tournament is known as March Madness since it is played mostly in March but is also sometime called the Big Dance. The competition has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.
March Madness teams include champions from 32 Division I conferences automatically and at-large berths that are awarded to 36 additional teams. These “at-large” teams are chosen by an NCAA selection committee, as detailed below. The 64 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single elimination “bracket” that dictates which team the winner will face next. Each team is “seeded”, or ranked, within its region. After an initial four games between eight lower-ranked teams, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends, at pre-selected neutral sites around the United States. Lower-ranked teams are placed in the bracket against higher ranked teams. Each weekend eliminates three quarters of the teams, from a round of 64, to a “Sweet Sixteen”, and for the last weekend of the Tournament a Final Four; the Final Four is typically played during the first weekend of April. These final four teams, one from each region, then compete in one location together for the national championship.
There is a long tradition to bet against friends and co-workers to predict the winning bracket for March Madness and depending how flush your friends are determines the potential payoff for the person with the best bracket. This year though, the payoff has been raised. Warren Buffet’s company Berkshire Hathaway and the nation’s fourth-largest mortgage lender, Quicken Loans, are sponsoring the $1 Billion dollar contest for any contestant who perfectly predicts the winners of all 67 games. The winner will $25 million annually for 40 years or have the option of a $500 Million lump payment. In the event of multiple perfect predictions, the prize will be split amongst winners.
How likely is it for someone to create the winning bracket? According to Quicken Loans the official odds for the Grand Prize-1:4,294,967,296; but Bloomberg.com quoted a math professor from De Paul University. Prof. Jeff Bergen said the odds of someone with zero knowledge of the beloved March Madness season picking every single winning team correctly, is less than 1 in 9 quintillion. But don’t be discouraged, Bergen says the odds go up to about 1 in 128 billion to those that have some understanding of NCAA Basketball.
And if no one wins? Reportedly the top 20 closest entries will be give $100,000 to remodel their home, refinance a mortgage or for a new mortgage.