Buffett Catches March Madness, Backs $1B Bracket Challenge

Warren Buffett

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If there’s anything that could make March Madness even more frenetic, anything that could make the Big Dance bigger, it’s a billion-dollar carrot on a stick for the perfect bracket. Warren Buffett, the self-made billionaire chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA)(NYSE:BRKB), has partnered with Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, to do just that. The two announced the contest and its $1 billion grand prize on Tuesday, setting the wheels in motion for what is likely to be one of the most closely watched NCAA men’s basketball tournaments to date.

“We’ve seen a lot of contests offering a million dollars for putting together a good bracket, which got us thinking, what is the perfect bracket worth?” said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer at Quicken Loans, to the Associated Press. “We decided a billion dollars seems right for such an impressive feat. It is our mission to create amazing experiences for our clients. This contest, with the possibility of creating a billionaire, definitely fits that bill.”

To be clear, the billion-dollar prize would be subject to taxes, meaning that if some mad genius (or lucky fool) wins, that person would pocket about $500 million from a lump-sum payment or take home 40 annual installments of $25 million. Either way, this is the kind of payday that would put a basketball wonk into the millionaire’s club — not the billionaire’s club — but this hardly seems like an important detail. This is the kind of prize pool that will have statisticians and die-hard fans collaborating and competing.