Warren Buffett's investment firm is insuring the $1 billion prize. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
You now have a billion more reasons to watch March Madness.
Detroit-based mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc. and billionaire Warren Buffett's investment firm Berkshire Hathaway are offering $1 billion to anyone who fills out a perfect bracket in advance of this year’s 68-team NCAA March Madness men’s college basketball tournament. Participation is free.
But don’t quit your day job just yet — odds at filling out a perfect bracket are one in 9.2 quintillion (that’s nine followed by 18 zeros), according to DePaul math professor Jay Bergen.
Those odds are based on no knowledge of the game and could decrease depending on a sport fan’s understanding of basketball.
To compare, the odds of winning the MegaMillions jackpot are one in 259 million, according to multiple media reports. You have a one in 3,000 chance at getting struck by lightning in your lifetime, says a National Geographic article.
ESPN said Tuesday that among the 30 million entries in its ESPN Tournament Challenge, no one has ever filled out a perfect bracket. USA Today says you’d be more likely to hit four holes-in-one in a round of golf.
If no one wins, Quicken said it will award $100,000 each to the contest’s 20 most accurate “imperfect” brackets. The contest guarantees $1 million to inner-city Detroit and Cleveland non-profits dedicated to education.
“We’ve seen a lot of contests offering a million dollars for putting together a good bracket, which got us thinking, what is the perfect bracket worth? We decided a billion dollars seems right for such an impressive feat,” Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans, said in a statement. “It is our mission to create amazing experiences for our clients. This contest, with the possibility of creating a billionaire, definitely fits that bill.”
The winner would receive the hefty payment in 40 annual installments of $25 million dollars, or an immediate $500 million lump sum. Free registration for the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket will begin March 3 and run through March 19. All registered participants will receive their brackets the evening of Sunday, March 16.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is insuring the grand prize.
“Millions of people play brackets every March, so why not take a shot at becoming $1 billion richer for doing so,” Buffett said in a statement. “While there is no simple path to success, it sure doesn’t get much easier than filling out a bracket online.