ESPN Bracket Challenge Winner Is Too Young To Collect Grand Prize

ESPN Bracket Challenge Winner Is Too Young To Collect Grand Prize

7:54pm Apr 07, 2015

Twelve-year-old Sam Holtz beat out 11.57 million other brackets to win the ESPN Tournament Challenge, which means he now enters a random raffle to win the grand prize. But even if selected, Holtz is too young to collect the prize.

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Last night, millions of people watched the NCAA men's college basketball championships - Wisconsin versus Duke. And in the Holtz household in Lake Zurich, Ill., a room full of sixth-grade boys held their breath as the clock ticked toward the final buzzer rooting for the Duke Blue Devils.


SAM: I felt like a million bucks when they won.



Because it meant 12-year-old Sam Holtz was a winner, too, of the ESPN bracket challenge.

SAM: I couldn't believe that this was actually happening, and I thought it was like a dream at first.

CORNISH: Sam beat out more than 11.5 million people to take first place in the bracket challenge.

BLOCK: The middle schooler's winning strategy?

SAM: I liked all the number one seeds besides Villanova, and I guess I had them all going to the final four, which they all did.


LIL BOW WOW: (Rapping) Now basketball is my favorite sport. I like the way they dribble up and down the court.

BLOCK: In ESPN's contest, the top 1 percent of all the brackets are entered into a raffle. The grand prize is a $20,000 gift card to Best Buy and a trip to this year's Maui Invitational basketball tournament.


LIL BOW WOW: (Rapping) Playing basketball all around the world.

CORNISH: All right, all right, turn off the happy music. There is some fine print here, people. The contest is for ages 18 and up, so even if Sam's luck holds for the raffle portion of the contest...

SAM: ESPN says that I'm too young to get the prize, which I think is a little ridiculous because I'm first place. I did better than any 18-year-old. I still think they're square. I mean, I should get my prize.

CORNISH: We called the network. They told us they'll cross that bridge when they come to it, and that although Sam beat out some pretty tough odds to get this far, he'd need another miracle to win the prize, too.

BLOCK: Even so, Sam Holtz can claim pretty sweet bragging rights. He says his friends are pretty excited, too.

SAM: They were all calling me and congratulating me and everything.

CORNISH: But he'll have to wait to collect high-fives. Sam took the day off from school - I mean, he did have interviews to do. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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