I have kids. Two cars. A house. I have all of Jay-Z’s 99 problems, plus a really old lawnmower that could croak at any moment.
I could use $1,000,000,000.
So when Warren Buffet offers me a chance at a billion banana skins, I take it seriously.
Unless you live in outer space, you’ve likely heard that Mr. Buffet (and his new best friends at Quicken Loans) is offering one billion dollars for the perfect NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket.
Here’s what I know about Warren Buffet: he’s rich! So I know he’s good for it. Here’s what I know about college basketball: it’s a sport played by college kids.
I like my odds to win Mr. Buffet’s lunch money because, quite frankly, the odds are terrible for everyone.
According to Business Insider, the odds of filling out a perfect NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.
The human brain only contains 100,000,000,000 cells. That there are more odds than I have brain cells should be discouraging enough. You have a much better chance of visiting the ER after a golf cart accident (1 in 22,355) than you have of Warren Buffet handing you the change between the cushions of his solid gold and diamond sofa.
But I entered anyway. I have bills to pay, man.
Entering is easy enough, especially if you’re familiar with the Yahoo! Sports format (another partner in Mr. Buffet’s scheme to make you, the little guy, richer than a third world country). I gained access to the entry form by clicking on a Facebook link.
The entry form cordially requests answers to questions you’d normally fudge or invent: your home address, email address, and phone number. I double-checked the accuracy of the information because I didn’t want to miss a billion dollar check in my mailbox or inbox.
Next, you’re asked more personal, more demographic driven inquires. What’s your birthday? Do you own a home? What’s the loan balance? Can you estimate your interest rate?
Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty. In exchange for a one in 9.2 quintillion* chance of having to pay some lucky guy a billion bucks, Quicken Loans is gaining some valuable data. Its partnership with Yahoo! suggests that Quicken Loans might be getting a good deal on that data, too.
But it doesn’t stop with collecting data. Because now it’s time for the hard sell!
Would I like to receive emails? I guess.
Would I like to speak to a Quicken Loan rep? No.
Would I like a free credit report? Nah.
Would I like to receive 40% off a free Fat Head decal? Wait, what?
Now it’s all over but the fine print, which informs you that “only the first 15,000,000 entrants who complete the registration process (as determined by Yahoo!) are eligible for the challenge.” So I was smart to register early!
The disclaimer also assures me that “Quicken Loans uses this ad campaign information for analytical purposes only, not to advertise to you.” Which is weird, because I immediately received an e-blast from Quicken Loans.
Once you register, you’re granted access to a Yahoo! gaming portal where you receive useful notifications, college basketball info, and Quicken Loans’ unstated appreciation for accepting the challenge you have no chance to win.
Also located on the jump page: banner ads unrelated to Quicken Loans, Fatheads, or Warren Buffet. Brands are paying to have a presence on another brand’s contest! Nice. Behold, the marketing power of one billion dollars.
In summary, I could be a billionaire by April. I’ve already picked out a brand new lawnmower, and a yard in the Caribbean to use it on.
*It’s a real number.