Kid With Top ESPN Bracket Too Young to Win

Network says he can have grab bag instead
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2015 3:26 AM CDT
Kid With Top ESPN Bracket Too Young to Win
Sam Holtz, a sixth-grader from Hawthorn Woods, Ill., poses at home with his near-perfect ESPN NCAA men’s basketball bracket, where he picked Duke to defeat Wisconsin in the finals.   (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Paul Valade)

Out of 11.57 million entries in the ESPN college basketball bracket challenge, the one closest to perfection was filled out by somebody too young to win the top prize. Sam Holtz, a 12-year-old from suburban Chicago, is tied for first, but contestants need to be at least 18 to have a shot at winning a $20,000 gift card and a trip to the Maui Invitational basketball tournament, the AP reports. ESPN says it will send him a grab bag of network goodies instead. Holtz tells the Daily Herald that he's "irritated" by the decision, but getting the prize would have been a long shot anyway: The prizewinner is picked at random from the top 1% of entries, so the sixth-grader would only have had a one in 115,000 chance.

"The great thing is that this kid beat all these experts out there," an ESPN spokesman tells the Herald. "He beat all of our commentators, all these celebrities, all the college experts. That's what makes this so awesome. The prize really is secondary." Holtz—who used his dad's email address but his real name to enter—says he took just five minutes to fill out the near-perfect bracket, which scored 100% on every round from the Sweet 16 upward. "I just rushed right through it. I think it was kind of all skill. Some people say it's luck, but I think I studied enough," he tells ABC7. (More bracket stories.)

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