Does Warren Buffett Understand NCAA Basketball Risks?

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Is the Oracle of Omaha truly an Oracle? That is what Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK-A) has bet on. Quicken Loans announced on Tuesday morning that it has joined forces with Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway to offer a chance at a $1 billion prize. The prize will come if someone completes the perfect bracket in this March’s men’s college basketball championship tournament.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is going to look either really smart or they may lose their shirt on this bet. The press release shows the rules and the suppositions, and it seems likely that the winnings could be broken up in a bunch of different ways here.

The companies said, “Any qualified entrant who correctly enters the contest and predicts the winners of every game in the tournament will share the total $1 billion prize paid in 40 annual installments of $25 million. Alternatively, the winner(s) may elect to receive an immediate $500 million lump sum payment or share in that lump sum payment if there is more than one perfect bracket submitted.”

To be eligible for the $1 billion grand prize, there are several rules for entrants:

  • must be 21 years of age;
  • a U.S. citizen;
  • and one of the first 10 million to register for the contest.
  • Quicken Loans reserves the right and option to expand the entry pool to a larger number of entrants.
  • Submissions will be limited to a total of one per household.

In addition to the potential grand prize, Quicken Loans will award $100,000 each to the contest’s 20 most accurate ‘imperfect’ brackets from qualified entrants in the contest to use toward buying, refinancing or remodeling a home.

Quicken Loans will also be directly donating $1 million to inner-city Detroit and Cleveland non-profit organizations which are dedicated to improving the education of young Detroit and Cleveland residents.

Warren Buffett said, “Millions of people play brackets every March, so why not take a shot at becoming $1 billion richer for doing so. While there is no simple path to success, it sure doesn’t get much easier than filling out a bracket online.  To quote a commercial from one of my companies, I’d dare say it’s so easy to enter that even a caveman can do it.”

Berkshire Hathaway is insuring the grand prize. Whether or not we get to see what the real risk to Berkshire Hathaway’s earnings happens to be is a guess at this point. Most likely, that will not be made public. This could end up being the ultimate March Madness.