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Warren Buffett sweetens the pot by $1 million for employee March Madness contest

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer
Warren Buffett at a Creighton basketball game. (AP)

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) is known for offering its employees the most lucrative March Madness bonanza in business, and on Thursday, days before the official bracket comes out, CEO Warren Buffett boosted the bounty for Berkshire folks.

This year’s contest, like last year’s, promises $1 million per year, for life, for anyone who predicts the Sweet Sixteen perfectly. But on Thursday, an email sent to all Berkshire employees registered for the contest, obtained by Yahoo Finance, announced, “Warren Buffett has increased the prize money!”

Berkshire is now also offering $1 million to anyone who nails the first 32 games correctly.

If no one makes it to 32 games, the $100,000 prize will still be awarded to whomever lasts the longest with a perfect bracket.

Graphic sent to Berkshire Hathaway employees for March Madness contest

Last year, two men split that prize for correctly calling the first 20 games of the tournament: Kevin Willis, of USLI insurance in Wayne, Pa., and Robert Keller of Geico. Their brackets were busted when Michigan State lost to Middle Tennessee. The two winners discussed their surprise victories in phone interviews with Yahoo Finance at the time.

Berkshire Hathaway offered a $1 billion prize three years ago in a contest open to the general public. The next year, it dropped the contest, and since then it has run its contest for Berkshire employees only.

The company confirmed the new $1 million-for-32-games prize, but did not comment otherwise. Last year, speaking to Yahoo Finance, Buffett described how he loves contests involving probabilities, and said that if an employee were to correctly pick the Sweet Sixteen, “You figure you’re at risk like $60 million at the most. And you [Berkshire] can handle that.”

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Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology.

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