Buffett Basketball Gamble Pays Off, For Him

Buffett Basketball Gamble Pays Off, For Him
By Mark Hirschey (Work of Mark Hirschey) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

With the Duke Blue Devils and other heavy favorites falling in the first round of the tournament, the former to Mercer University, no one is left standing in Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU)’s perfect bracket challenge and with a field of sixteen remaining, it was never even close. With 15 games remaining Buffett will collect his fee and be off the hook, just as he expected.

While we know that no one remains in contention for the billion, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQLYHOO) and Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) did not disclose how many people participated in the challenge.

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Warren Buffett: The odds

It’s difficult to calculate the actual odds of a perfect bracket because given the teams’ talent disparity it is not a simple matter of a 50/50 chance in each game. One expert estimated the odds of a perfect bracket at 9.2 quintillion to one. That is 9.2 billion-billion or less likely than winning the Mega Millions and Powerball over a single weekend.

“There is no perfect math…There are no true odds, no one really knows,” Buffett told CNN two months ago when the challenge was made public.

The “madness” began in earnest withe the defeat of Ohio State University by inner-state rivals Dayton University. That saw 85% of contestants out of the running. Mercer’s defeat of Duke just finished it for most with 98% of participants having chose the lackluster Blue Devils.

Both CBS and ESPN run bracket challenges that see millions participate each year and they haven’t seen a perfect bracket beyond the first weekend or 48 games. In the ESPN bracket challenge, only one person has remained perfect through the first round in the last seven years.

“I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s basically impossible,” said John Diver, director of product development for ESPN Fantasy.

Suffice is to say, Warren Buffett doesn’t gamble and insuring the challenge was just a great way to get some publicity without really risking anything.

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