Friday, April 10, 2015
"He called me at work and said that he was number six, and I initially dismissed it," stated Elizabeth Holtz.
Sam Holtz, 12, a sixth grader in Hawthorne Woods IL ended up tied for the top prize in ESPN's Bracket Challenge when Duke won the championship April 6 2015. The contest assigns point values to wins in the bracket and then puts the top 1% of the winning submissions in a drawing for the grand prize. This year the prize was a $20,000 gift card to Best Buy and a trip to the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The only problem seems to be that the contest was open only to legal US citizens who were 18 years old and up at the time of the entry.
Sam used his father's email address with his permission to submit about 10 bracket submissions. It was one of those that landed him tied for the top spot. The officials at ESPN notified Sam of his winning but being ineligible for the drawing for the grand prize which has left Sam's father irritated. Sam finished tied for first place with a final score of 1,830 for his winning bracket. ESPN stated that winning the contest does not mean that you will automatically win the grand prize and this year there are 115,700 entries that qualified for the drawing.
There are 67 games in the bracket and Sam only missed six of them. He was perfect in picking the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four and managed to beat out many of the experts and 11.5 million who entered a bracket. There are plenty of people who side with Sam's father with the feeling that ESPN should allow Sam to be in the drawing because he did so well.
The rules were clearly stated when he entered though and ESPN is under no obligation to allow Sam's entry to stay in the drawing. They have told him that they are gathering together things to give him some sort of goody bag which is more than they are required to do. If you put yourself on the other side of that equation...... say you lost in the drawing to Sam or another ineligible contestant who was allowed to stay in, would you be very happy?
Casinos regularly withhold major jackpots from underage winners and usually tack on a banishment and legal action. If you win more than $1,300 at most casinos, you are liable for the taxes on it. The casino then asks for a valid ID to fill out and process the tax form and if you are underage and managed to get inside to gamble, you lose. The casino can and will be fined for underage gambling so they do not take breaking the rules lightly. If the casino finds out that you used a fake ID to enter and win, the police will be the next stop on your loss of winnings.
Sam did a fantastic job of picking the teams in his bracket entry that tied for first but the lesson he should learn is that he did well but was not eligible to win the grand prize. Teaching children that it is okay to break the rules or that they are owed something even though they broke the rules sets a bad precedent for the rest of life. It feeds the sense of entitlement that seems to be spreading quicker each day.
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