Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans announced Tuesday morning that they are teaming up to give out $1 billion to anyone who picks a perfect March Madness bracket.
That’s right. Anyone who can correctly pick all the games in this year’s NCAA tournament can quickly join the billionaire’s club, with their hoop dreams striking a small blow against rising income inequality and limited economic mobility.
“A billion dollars seems right for the impressive feat,” Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans, said in a press release. But it’s also an awful lot of money for something that’s bound to be at least as much luck as skill – and offering that much money for college basketball picks is bound to strike some people as obscene.
Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is insuring Quicken Loans in case somebody wins. Of course, Buffett is nothing if not a savvy business guy, so the chances that he’ll have to actually pay out are slim – about 1 in 9.2 quintillion, or a slightly more appealing 1 in 128 billion chance for those with a bit more basketball knowledge. Any winner would be paid out in 40 annual installments of $25 million, or they could choose to take a $500 million lump sum payment. If, somehow, there’s more than one winner, the prize will be shared.
For those less confident in their bracket strategies, not to worry — Quicken Loans is doling out $100,000 each to contestants with the 20 most accurate brackets submitted. Though the prize money must be put toward buying, refinancing or remodeling a home.
Based on the early buzz, the promotion has already made for a successful marketing ploy. And Detroit-based Quicken Loans, the fourth-largest mortgage lender in the country, said it will be awarding some money — $1 million, with an “M,” not a “B” — to non-profit organizations “dedicated to improving the education of young Detroit and Cleveland residents.”
So Quicken Loans officials clearly know how badly inner-city Detroit has been ravaged. The city’s poverty rate is 38 percent — or three times the national rate, according to the latest Census Bureau figures. Detroit’s median annual income is $26,000, and more than half of the children living in the city are impoverished.
Perhaps Kevin Orr, Detroit’s emergency manager tasked with saving the city, should start filling out some brackets ASAP. - Follow Brianna Ehley on Twitter @BriannaEhley
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