Only Suckers Will Play the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge Data Mining Scam

March Madness NCAA college basketball tournament Billion Dollar Bracket suckers

Update: Nobody who participated in the Billion Dollar Bracket challenge managed to get passed the first round of the NCAA tournament with a perfect bracket. It took only 25 games for everyone in the contest to be eliminated from the $1 billion prize

OK, I’m just going to come straight out and say it. If you play the Warren Buffet Quicken Loan / Yahoo Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, you’re a sucker. Not a little one either. You’re one of those huge, multi-colored rainbow suckers that are so big that nobody can even eat all of it before getting sick.

It’s that time of year again. All my friends are talking about the NCAA college basketball March Madness tournament. This happens every year at this time, but this is the first time that they are all suckers. In past years, the entered various bracket challenges hoping to be the best of the best. This year they’re hoping to win $1 billion playing the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. And it’s not even that they are talking about winning the $1 billion that makes them suckers. They know that the odds of them picking a perfect bracket are microscopic. They’re suckers because they believe that this contest is about their small chance of winning money. Suckers.

I’ve told them all that they are suckers. Each has reacted in almost the exact same way. I’m given a condescending look like I’m an idiot as they explain to me in the same tone they would to a two-year-old that it doesn’t cost a dime to play. It’s free. A chance to win $1 billion and it doesn’t cost anything to enter. Never has the adage, “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” been more true than this contest. It’s advertising at it’s finest. My friends all think that they are getting this wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime chance to become a billionaire when the reality is all they’re doing is giving a company valuable information about themselves. It’s so valuable that the company would be willing to spend millions of dollars more than they are to obtain it, but they don’t have to. Instead, all the people playing the game are voluntarily giving them their personal information for free. Big suckers.

This isn’t a $1 billion bracket contest. Sure, it’s disguised and advertised as one, but it isn’t. Not even close. It’s nothing more than a stealth data mining operation. It’s a scam. It’s a way for them to get my friends and everyone else playing to give up what they want for free instead of having to pay others a lot of money to get that information. They are basically doing the same thing as holding up a shiny toy way out of reach, and while those playing stare at it and attempt to grab it, they take what they really want right out of their pockets. Big, fat, suckers.

Don’t believe me? Go to the contest page and see for yourself. If this were just a contest, why are you required to give so much personal information about yourself to sign-up that’s irrelevant to whether or not you win? Why do they need to know if you own a house, or if you have a mortgage? Because this has nothing to do with $1 billion that there is no chance that they will ever have to pay to anyone. It has everything to do with getting your personal information on the cheap. Tell your friend all you want. My guess is that they will be like mine. Big, fat, rainbow-colored, suckers.

(Photo courtesy of Jessica Paoli)

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34 Responses to Only Suckers Will Play the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge Data Mining Scam

  1. Taylor says:

    It is obvious to most of us playing that Quicken Loans is interested in our personal information. The naive part is thinking that you would need to volunteer this information for it to be obtained. The average internet user is tracked by around 290 independent companies PER DAY. Cookies, tracking scripts, super cookies, http referrers, IP address data, user agents, browser fingerprinting, and other technologies not only track everything you do, but they sell that information to other tracking companies multiple times PER DAY. So I spent a minute signing up for a miniscule chance at winning a billion dollars. The consequences will add up to flagging a quicken mortgage email as spam and then not having to worry about it again. This is not an example of a stealth data mining operation. It is very much out in the open. Stealth data mining is the billion dollar industry that I referred to earlier in this response. I don’t feel like a sucker, and if you ask me, I think you’re a sucker for not taking a free crack at a billion dollars.

  2. Christina says:

    And twenty people are going to get $100000 each. People can deactivate their e-mail accounts (I used my oldest spam-collector account). How is this worse than people giving their real information to supermarkets for “loyalty club cards” or entering surveys or giveaways online, or people buying $150 raffle tickets for some dream home for which they can’t afford the real estate taxes?

    But sure, convince everybody this is a suckers-only play and that no other prizes are to be awarded to entrants by mentioning the $1 billion prize only, and don’t mention the twenty $100,000 prizes. That’ll reduce the playing field and increase the odds for people with sports mathematical modeling or sports statistical analysis experience and past prediction successes.

    From a March 4, 2014 article:

    “The 20 best brackets will win a $100,000 prize put toward their current mortgage, or the buying of a new home. That means that there will be winners, and your guesses have just as much opportunity to be the best as the other people participating.

    With that in mind, give the contest a shot. You risk none of your own money, and even though the odds are against you winning the top $1 billion prize, there is a chance for you to walk away $100,000 richer if you choose a great bracket.”

  3. Jake says:

    Dude…you’re a loser. Just fill out a bracket and shut up.

  4. Y'all R Stupid says:

    Why do they need your phone number and another phone number. This truly is a scam. Don’t give out your phone number to anyone, ever!

  5. Rex Harris says:

    I could not even fill the thing out. What a scam it kept saying my number was used. It’s my number so what the heck? I’m disgusted!

  6. Steve says:

    You’re article sucks.

  7. Josh says:

    Most of the super secret personal information theyre mining from us is freely available as part of public record anyway, soo….

  8. Tyler says:

    The Cell phone number is to keep you from filling out multiple brackets. I didn’t sign up for any information and they’re going to get my info anyway if I win a $1 billion anyway.

  9. Kevin says:

    Your, not you’re.

  10. Just Shutup says:

    ugh. I hate you. I bet you also constantly remind people who drink diet coke that it will give them cancer.

  11. Lee says:

    Ok – you are a looser. Just go downstairs and ask your mom
    What’s for dinner.

  12. S. Shugars says:

    Did you win, or was I correct?

  13. S. Shugars says:

    No, I just point out the obvious to those who refuse to see it.

  14. S. Shugars says:

    Did you win?

  15. S. Shugars says:

    So just give it to them on a silver platter so they don’t have to do any work at all for nothing?

  16. Erik says:

    Who cares if you win, it’s a contest. If for 5 minutes someone can dream, let them.

    In the time you took to write this silly article you could have signed up. So who is the real sucker?


  17. D-Reg says:

    -__- Yea because without us just giving it to them “on a silver platter”, the work they have to do to get our PUBLIC info is just as hard as jumping the Grand Canyon on a big wheel, right?

  18. Lee says:

    If you would have researched your article, you would realize that you could not have won yet. Good one buddy.

  19. S. Shugars says:

    Nobody is going to move past the first round,

  20. Wakeup says:

    Dude, your article sucks. First, you act like you found out some great secret that Quicken is trading some personal information for a chance to will a billion bucks. Everybody knows this already so shut up. Then you prance around your article insulting anyone who plays this game. Acting like you are too smart to play. The questions are not that intrusive, and that information is swirling around the internet data mining companies 10 times over already I’m afraid. Besides, just lie about your mortgage jeez. Were you born yesterday? And have an email address for bullish*t articles that require one to comment, like the one I’m using here. Are you STEALTH MINING my data? Pfft. You sound like a miserable person with a chip on your shoulder. The only thing worse than the proliferation of big data mining on the internet is the proliferation of complete crap articles and websites. And I don’t even get a shot at billion dollars reading it. Boo.

  21. Ferd Nerfherder says:

    It costs nothing to join. I used an email address I only use for situations like this, and a Google Voice number I use for the same reason. They didn’t call or write to make sure both were real. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everything’s a scam.

    FYI, they expect roughly the same information to leave a comment here. Just sayin…

  22. Greg says:

    Stop trying to take the fun out of March Madness. Didn’t continue to read after first paragraph.

  23. Lee says:

    You can’t even see when your being an idiot. Stick with one point. Your article pointed out one thing. You should have just said that you have a real problem with the whole thing. It’s a game fool. Everything in life has a price. Your name is on many lists, regardless if you play a game or not. How many times have YOU clicked a link to get to a website? I cannot believe that I even responded to your dumb post. By the way fool, I am 11 for 11 right now.

  24. W. Buffit says:

    This is like calling everyone that plays the lottery a sucker. And you know what? Every winner has been a sucker.

    It seems like a no-brainer. At the cost of having a couple more spam emails/letters/calls, you have the opportunity to win a lot of money.

    You know who is the true sucker, though? Anyone who clicked on this obvious click-bait article. This offers nothing any competent person wouldn’t already heard of or though of.

  25. You're a Douche says:

    Seriously, are you an idiot? Do you think people don’t understand that the cost of this is simply providing a little bit of information that is already readily available by a hundred different mining companies? And the majority of people use junk email addresses and give inaccurate information.

    If there is a sucker in life, it is you. If you think that companies cannot already easily get this information about you, you are an idiot. Instead of them paying a third party for this information, that have turned it into a game and paying an insurance company in case someone hits.

  26. Kevin says:

    I read through the official rules before I decided not to enter. They make it pretty clear that you have to provide a cell phone number, and that you have to be the owner of that cell phone plan. If you signed up with Google Voice, they’re almost certainly not going to pay you any winnings you may earn.

  27. Kevin says:

    You realize that giving inaccurate information is a great way to become ineligible for any prizes you might earn, right? I read the rules before deciding not to enter, and at the very least it required you to provide a cell phone number for a number that you own, and that you had to agree to receive sales calls from them. This is a hard requirement. There was probably more, but I just wasn’t interested in being solicited so I decided not to enter.

  28. Kevin says:

    While I disagree with the author’s stance that only dummies would enter the contest, I read the official rules when I was considering entered and decided against it. The rules require you to provide a cell phone number for a phone that you own, and you have to agree to receive sales calls. I wasn’t interested in being solicited, so I decided not to go for the 1/750000 chance that I’d win $100,000.

    Entering the lottery does not require you to give any information about yourself unless you win the jackpot. Your analogy is fundamentally flawed.

  29. Jason says:

    I’m not sure what your point is dude. We all give personal information to lots of sites when we browse the web. It’s up to each individual what they are willing to share. I just gave this site my email address to post this comment. Does that make anyone who posts here a sucker? You aren’t pointing out anything that isn’t obvious. We all know that much of the content on the internet is free in exchange for the opportunity for people to advertise at us. All you’re doing is insulting millions of people and showing your own ignorance.

    “Why do they need to know if you own a house, or if you have a mortgage?”

    Well if you read the rules, genius, you would see so it’s they can advertise their services to you, which they don’t hide. You’re the only one that thought something tricky was going on. Nice work, Sherlock.

  30. The initial poster is a moron says:

    Top 20 brackets get paid $100,000 each. Your are a moron! So quicken loans sent me a email, great, i’ll put into spam for a shot at 100K. What you should do, head to the nearest beach, stick your head in the sand. Please stay there a while, at least until you think about how stupid you sound

  31. Tom says:

    Looks like you’re wrong. AGAIN.

  32. S. Shugars says:

    @Lee It’s a fool’s game…FTFY

    @Tom — really? I was correct — not a single person who participated in the contest picked a perfect bracket for the first 32 games…

  33. keepsitreal says:

    Get a grip dude. I hope you had your tinfoil hat on while writing your article. Exposing the devious secrets of such a powerful conglomerate is like giving the black helicopters the GPS of your grandma’s basement and . I’m not a fan of the constant data mining of our personal info, and do a lot to shield my self as much as I can, without reducing the value of the internet to a place to insult others. But I feel like Every single big prize contest in history requires some disclosure that will likely be used for marketing in some way. Imagine someone won but was never required to leave contact info! That would suck huh??

  34. Ben says:

    Good article. I played and have been harrassed by QL since, calling and insisting I signed up to get a new mortgage with them and then acting surprised when I say all I did is enter the contest. They are very aggressive to deal with. But it would not be fun to be the people calling, knowing that the only reason you have this contact info is that someone wanted to be in a contest, not that they wanted a loan.

    I did disagree that QL didn’t pay anything for all of our info. As you pointed out, if they wanted to get it through more traditional sources it would take them a lot of work, but instead they got it through the contest. However, the contest, while not a lot of work, was a lot of money for them. QL had to buy an insurance policy from WB for this. A guess has been made that the insurance policy cost $20,000,000. So, while it was a shortcut for them, it also was expensive.

    So, while I may be a sucker because I now have to get them to stop calling me, both sides paid a price for this “scam.”

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