What are the Odds of Picking a Perfect Bracket in the NCAA Billion Dollar Basketball Contest?

odds to win billion dollar bracket contest
Warren Buffett is risking $1 billion (actually Berkshire Hathaway shareholders will be taking the risk) that nobody is going to be able to pick a perfect NCAA tournament bracket. The odds say that it’s a pretty good bet on his part. To say the least, the odds of winning the Quicken Loans / Yahoo 2014 NCAA college basketball tournament “Billion Dollar Bracket” contest are slim. In fact, they’re really, really slim. If you think that the odds of winning the lottery are bad, they are nothing compared to this contest. If you were going to randomly pick teams, your odds of winning would be 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. Yes, that is a 9 with 18 digits after it, or more tha...

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5 Responses to What are the Odds of Picking a Perfect Bracket in the NCAA Billion Dollar Basketball Contest?

  1. WCWIII says:

    People have been having fun with throwing out extremely low odds for getting all the teams correct and winning the billion dollars. Indeed, I’ve heard 9 quintillion to 1 (63 picks each 50:50). Better is to say you average a 2/3 chance each to get them all … this gives 124 billion to 1.

    In big online bracket pools with upwards of 5M people, every so often there are maybe a couple people with a perfect Sweet 16 bracket … let’s say you get 10 such people in this Billion Dollar Challenge. And now, if you average a 2/3 chance of picking correct scores for the remaining 15 games, it’s 438 to 1 per person, so maybe 1 billion dollar winner every 44 years.

    So the answer is somewhere between 1 in 44 and 1 in 8272 (124 billion / 15 million entries) that someone will win the pool depending on who you ask.

  2. Chris says:

    Your posit that there are almost always a few folks with a perfect sweet sixteen bracket ignores the premise of this challenge. You could have all 16 teams that are left which is impressive, but it doesn’t mean you picked the first 24 games correctly, you could do that by being correct on just 16 of those first 24 games. This challenge is a perfect bracket. 63 for 63. If all the one seeds are a shoe-in to win their first round game, your odds are still roughly 550 quadrillion to one.

  3. Vince F. Bundy says:

    Slight error. Although the odds ARE 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, the author says they are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. If you’re going to put the odds in a ratio, then they are 9,223,372,036,854,775,807 to 1.

    Just sayin’…

  4. Jesse says:

    The other big flaw in your math is dividing 124 billion by 15 million. That would only work if all 15 million brackets entered in the contest were unique. In reality, there’s always going to be a ton of overlap, dramatically reducing the chances that Buffet ever pays that billion.

  5. Christopher Johnson says:

    Winners of basketball brackett?

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