DraftKings is a name that started popping up very often in the sports betting industry in the recent weeks, sometimes, though, for all the wrong reasons. The latest information that the winner of DraftKings contest “Millionaire Maker” from last weekend might have somehow violated the rules of the contest shows that even fantasy sports needs to maintain the necessary level of integrity, especially when there are millions in prize money to be handed out.
In a fantasy sports competition like the “Millionaire Maker, ” one that requires each participant to pick a lineup of players from the four wild-card games in the NFL and hands in $1 million to the winner, which by chance happens to be a TV show celebrity name – Jade Roper-Tolbert – who appeared in the 2015 “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise” television series, mistakes happen.
Mrs. Tolbert, who subsequently married one of her fellow contestants in the same series – Tanner Tolbert – who is also a fan of fantasy sports and a participant of the DraftKings’ contest in focus, as it turns out, was in the centre of one such mistake.
Beating more than 100,000 contestants to a $1 million prize cannot go without scrutiny and the fantasy sports community already put the wheels in motion by pointing out that both Jade and Tanner submitted the maximum allowed 150 entries, most of which happened to comprise of uniquely different lineups of players, thus maximizing their aggregate chance of winning but also gaining a mathematical advantage over the rest of the participants and violating the contest rules.
Of course, the couple claim winning the prize was as a result of pure luck, but the attempt to deflect the focus of the unwanted attention to their celebrity status and even the gender of the winner, leaves a bad aftertaste and further fuels the suspicions. As expected, DraftKings is assuring the public that no prize will be handed before the investigation they launched into the situation is complete:
“We take the integrity and fairness of our contests very seriously and are looking into this matter”
Below the Surface
While the whole fantasy sports community eagerly waits for the final verdict on the situation to come out, there are other aspects of it that remain outside of the public attention.
Interestingly enough, this story happens less than a month after DraftKings announced a merger with SBTech that would turn them into a vertically-integrated powerhouse with an estimated market capitalization of $3.3bln and $500mln of cash.
At the same time when this story reached the public, though, the Special Purpose Acquisition Company /SPAC/ used for the merger, filed a registration document revealing DraftKings’ loss of $114 million for the first nine months of 2019, indirectly fueling the main argument of critics of SPACs that they serve as a vehicle that totally transfers the risk to investors.
As the popular saying goes, “there is no smoke without fire”, but only time will tell whether this story is just spicy food for the public or something much bigger.
Image credit: DraftKings.com