Odds against everyone in Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge


Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 12:07 a.m.

There are physical laws against it and it is beyond unlikely. But we will know for sure in April if someone comes forward as the winner of Warren Buffett's “Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge.”

We will know then if someone in the future has invented a time machine. That person will return to the present with the perfect 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket and take home the billion (or a measly $500 million if he or she wants it in a lump sum).

Because that's the only way someone could get every pick correct. The odds are 9.2 quintillion-to-1 against it happening. I'm not sure what a quintillion is, but I'm told it has more zeroes than a Star Trek convention.

You thought the lottery was a pipedream? The odds of winning Powerball are a mere 175 million-to-1. And there are no free throws involved.

Heck, if someone wanted to give away a trillion dollars right now to the person who correctly filled out the bracket — not the winners but just the bracket itself heading into the tournament — it wouldn't happen.

But starting March 3, you can sign up for the bracket-palooza. Expect the website to have more traffic than the George Washington Bridge and the Obamacare website combined.

In all of the years that ESPN has run its bracket contest, nobody has ever come close to a perfect bracket. Only once, according to the website, has anyone picked the first round correctly. My guess is that person was picking based on nicknames or goofiest mascots.

That's what makes the tournament so great. We think we know, but we know nothing. It's not called March Mundane-ness. There are enough brackets crumpled up in trash cans after the first weekend to fill Albert Hall.

But that's the fun of it. Your bracket will be covered in Xs and circles and the occasional piece of angry graffiti, but it's your bracket and you command ownership of your picks until you're too embarrassed to let anyone know about your Final Four. (“Oh, I forgot to fill out a bracket this year, but I would have picked ….” Save it. It's a dead giveaway that you once again picked your alma mater to win it all and it went out in the first round.)

Buffett's bracket contest will offer awards of $100,000 to the top 20 brackets. Thanks for nothing. How about the worst 20 brackets?

At any rate, unless someone does invent a time machine, the story is great publicity for Quicken Loans, which is actually giving the money away, and Buffett, the Omaha-based billionaire who is insuring the booty and is looking forward to Peyton Manning yelling out the name of his hometown in the Super Bowl.

But there will be no billion-dollar winner.

You have better odds of making four holes-in-one in one round of golf. Or driving the length of 13th Street without getting a red light.

The world is all about the odds. The odds that Seattle will win the Super Bowl or the Yankees will overpay for a player or Miley Cyrus will do something outrageous in the next 24 hours. You're on the clock, Hannah Montana.

For example, your odds of dying from a shark attack are 11.5 million-to-one. Your odds of being attacked by Greg “The Shark” Norman are much greater if you bring up his choke job at the 1996 Masters.

Your odds of being considered possessed by Satan are 7,000-to-1. Your odds of being recruited by Nick Saban are much better.

Your odds of being killed in a vending machine accident are 112 million-to-1. Your odds of being injured because you are between Charlie Weis and a vending machine are much better.

Your odds of spotting a UFO today are 3 million-to-1. Your odds of getting a reality TV show if you claim to have spotted a UFO are much better.

Your odds of catching a ball at a major league baseball game are 563-to-1. Your odds of dropping a fly ball if you play for the Cubs are much better.

Your odds of being killed by a falling airplane part are 10 million-to-1. Your odds of getting drilled in the knee by an airplane beverage cart are much better.

Your odds of becoming a saint are 20 million-to-1. Your odds of becoming a New Orleans Saint are much better, especially if you can kick field goals.

And the odds of you nailing the NCAA bracket, well, they're not good. But if history tells us anything, they're better than mine.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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