Why you won’t win a billion dollars with Warren Buffett’s bracket challenge


When it comes to the way he roots for Creighton, Warren Buffett’s judgment might be questionable. (Nati Harnik / AP)

Want to take a sweet billion dollars from one of the richest men in the world and, in the process, earn the most obnoxious bragging rights known to fankind?

Who doesn’t? Too bad it’s not going to happen.

Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans have teamed up for a tantalizing little NCAA bracket twist: Correctly pick the winner of all of the men’s tournament games in the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge and win a billion dollars. Go to Yahoo, create and account and be one of the first 15 million contestants to enter. Then sit back, enjoy the tournament and await the inevitable moment at which your bracket is busted.

[How can I watch the games on truTV? | President Obama makes his picks]

The odds that an insurance company in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company will have to pay for the perfect bracket? 9.2 quintillion-to-1. So, yes, there’s a chance at beating the Oracle of Omaha at this stunt. Jeffrey Bergen, a math professor at DePaul University, told USA Today that the odds improve to “one in 128 billion if you know something about college basketball.”

Buffett loves this sort of thing. He has advised LeBron James, been a caddie for Tiger Woods, stepped into the batter’s box against Bob Gibson and is a rabid fan of Creighton and Nebraska. He had such fun with this that he told ESPN’s Rick Reilly he wrote the policy himself. “I just sat right in that chair,” he said in his office, “and I did the calculations. Took me about 10 or 15 minutes. I hope I did it right.”

Chances are that he did. Chances also are he’s aware of the fact that no one has had a perfect bracket in over 30 million entries in ESPN’s competition, which began in 1998. If it seems as if this is a slam dunk for Buffett and Quicken, that’s because it is, although Quicken will award $100,000 for each of the 20 most accurate brackets.

If you don’t play, you can’t win. Or something like that. And there’s always the delicious possibility that a billion could be riding on the championship game April 7 for some nervous bracketeer. Naturally, Buffett has considered that. “I think they should put us on a split-screen TV. And on every shot, every free throw, they’d show us, and one of us won’t be happy.”

Keeping up with the NCAA tournament can be hard, especially if you're late to the "bracketology" game. The Post's Dan Steinberg explains five things you should know about March Madness this year. (Davin Coburn, Jayne Orenstein and Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

Keeping up with the NCAA tournament can be hard, especially if you’re late to the “bracketology” game. The Post’s Dan Steinberg explains five things you should know about March Madness this year.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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