March Madness Reaches New Level with $1B Contest

basketball courtEvery year much of the country goes “mad” about college basketball.  People who have rabid school loyalties as well as those who actually care about basketball fill out their dream bracket to predict who will win each game up to and including the national championship.  It would be impossible to calculate how many people participate in office pools, dorm challenges, and family bets about individual games or for the best overall bracket.

In 2014 the ante was upped considerably with one contest offering $1 billion to anyone who submitted a perfect bracket.  The contest was run by Quicken Loans and insured by Berkshire Hathaway, but it was the brainchild of Berkshire’s Warren Buffett.

While it has already been determined that no one submitted a perfect bracket, it is interesting to note the terms of the contest — especially since Buffett has indicated he plans to back another contest in 2015.

For accurately picking all the winners in the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, the winner could choose between $25 million a year for forty years or a one-time payout of $500 million.  If multiple winners had emerged, they would have split the winnings, much like a lottery.  There was also the promise that anyone who still stood a chance of winning would be invited to attend the championship game as Buffett’s guest so that, if they won, they could get the check at the end of the game.

Every March Madness comes with upsets, especially in the early rounds of play.  This year there seemed to be even more than usual, and that led Buffett to announce that any chance of someone taking home $1 billion was lost on Friday, March 21st.

Two upsets on Thursday eliminated a vast majority of bracket entries. When underdogs Dayton and Mercer beat out Ohio State and Duke, a full 99 percent of brackets were broken.  Going into Friday’s games, only three contestants still had a shot at the top prize and they lost out when George Washington lost to Memphis Friday night.

The 2014 contest is not over, though no one will win the big payout.  Quicken Loans will award $100,000 to the twenty entries with the best performing brackets. Winners who are looking for tips on how to manage their money may want to check out this site.

Watch the clip below to hear Buffet talk about the contest and his hopes for 2015:

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