There have been a number of upsets on the path to the March Madness championship game, with No. 6 Ohio State falling short to No. 11 Dayton in just the first round. Although student athletes on the court are experiencing a great deal of disappointment, fans participating in the NCAA March Madness 2014 bracket — backed by Quicken Loans and Warren Buffett — have another hard reality to confront.
Avid college basketball spectators eagerly tracked each game to the Final Four, but millions of Americans have done so in hopes of achieving the perfect bracket. The winner who submits a pristine March Madness bracket has a chance at growing his savings account by $1 billion. The prize is no doubt appealing, but the contest hopefuls have a better chance of getting killed by a vending machine (1 in 112 million) or winning the lottery.
Warren Buffett’s Billion-Dollar Bracket Odds
The official rules of the Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans billion dollar bracket challenge state that the mathematical odds of predicting the outcome of each of the 63 March Madness tournament games is 1:9,223,372,036,854,775,808. If your eyes just glazed over at that gargantuan number, that’s 1 in 9.2 quintillion.
So what’s a quintillion?
Here is where this figure falls among the powers of 10:
- 103= one thousand
- 106= one million
- 109= one billion
- 1012= one trillion
- 1015= one quadrillion
- 1018= one quintillion
The bracket challenge’s official rules do note, however, that odds could vary depending on the knowledge and skill of each entrant. But even college basketball follower President Barack Obama hasn’t come close to achieving the perfect bracket.
In fact, DePaul mathematics professor Jay Bergen told USA Today that even the savviest of college basketball fans still have odds of 1 in 128 billion to contend with. The USA Today report also revealed that only one person has predicted the results of just the first round in the last seven years of CNN’s bracket competition.
Powerball Lottery: Better Odds to Strike it Rich
Some say it’s a fool’s dream to chase after million-dollar lottery winnings, but compared to Warren Buffett’s bracket challenge, the Powerball Lottery seems like child’s play. Powerball.com states that the likelihood of winning the jackpot prize is just 1 in 175,223,510.
175 million versus 9.2 quintillion? You’ve just exponentially improved your chances of winning big bucks — literally. You’re 53 billion times more likely to win the Powerball than get a perfect bracket.
Also, the Powerball lottery gives players as many as nine ways to win, and the odds of winning any prize is a mere 1 in 32. The billion-dollar March Madness bracket, on the other hand, only offers two chances to win: the $1 billion grand prize and a $100,000 first prize award to 20 of the highest-scoring participants in the challenge.
But, there’s always a chance, as Warren Buffett suggested in radio interview with ESPN.
Will You Win the NCAA March Madness 2014 Bracket Challenge?
Short answer: No.
By March 21, no perfect brackets remained in Buffett’s challenge.
If the planets had aligned for you and you’d accurately predicted the outcome of each tournament game leading up to the Final Four, you might still have had a shot — that is, until Warren Buffett started shifting in his seat.
The multi-billionaire investor has openly expressed that, a.) if anyone came dangerously close to winning the grand prize by the Final Four and b.) Quicken Loans approved, he’d try to buy out the contender.
“If I offered you $100 million to call off the bet, I bet you’d take it,” Buffett told ESPN’s Rick Reilly hosts Mike and Mike. “Because $100 million to you is about the same as $250 million. But $100 million versus zero? That sounds a lot worse.”
After coming this far, you’d still have just a 1 in 8 chance of predicting the final three games accurately, according to Sports Illustrated; so, it’s easy to see the truth of Buffett’s statement. But if you’re a risk-taker to the end, and had succeeded at winning the grand prize, you’d still have the option of choosing a $500 million lump sum payment (after tax) or 40 annual installments of $25 million.
Again, if you’d beaten the odds.