ESPN refuses to pay 12-year-old March Madness bracket challenge winner

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LAKE ZURICH, Ill. - An Illinois sixth grader put more than 11 million people to shame when he tied for first in ESPN's bracket challenge.

Sam Holtz’s near perfect bracket should have qualified him for a chance to win a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

But, ESPN told Holtz he was ineligible to win the prize because the winner has to be 18, and he used his dad's e-mail to enter the challenge, according to WGN.

The Chicago Tribune reports SportsCenter offered to let him anchor an episode of the show.



    First it is absolute sad that fox considers this news. ESPN is not refusing to pay the dishonest kid. ESPN clearly stated the rules that no one under 18 can win. This kid tried to manipulate ESPN by using his dads email address. SHAME ON THE KID ON HIS PARENTS AND FOX NEWS FOR MISREPRESENTING THIS ARTICLE

  • lisamoebartholomew

    As awesome as it is that he was able to nail all of his brackets, he disqualified himself right from the start. So in 5 years when he is qualified as an adult, I hope he does it again. Good luck, kid.

  • bob

    The rules clearly state you must be 18 to enter. What kind of lowlife would encourage them to break the rules and pay a child his gambling winnings?

    • Phantom

      lol dude he didn’t gamble or anything like that XD He never spent any money at all to play or get in or anything. He probably wanted to just make a bracket with his friends in a group and see who would get the most points. That’s what a lot of the kids at my school do. Just wanted to have fun.

  • Nick

    They should give him the money he is 12 and maybe he doesn’t have his own e-mail so pay him and it will all be over with!!

      • Anthony

        He didn’t cheat, he just didn’t meet the requirements. You need to look up the definition of cheating. He didn’t break any rules to improve his score, he just didn’t meet the requirements to win money.

    • Anthony

      They’re not paying him because he’s under age, not because he didn’t use his own email address. Read the story.

  • Anthony

    Did this writer actually write “putting adults to shame?” There is no skill involved in guessing the NCAA tournament at all. It’s like 99% luck and this is a non story. Get it off the internet.

  • miles (dave)

    the whole must be 18 or older to win is so common that im guessing that its for legal reasons. it might be just to legally difficult or risky to give a child the prize. i think in good will he should get something. i dont think he cheated but i would say he disqualified him self from the beginning, to get the prize.

  • Allen

    Couple problems with this article. First he didn’t qualify because of his age. Secondly the $20000 was going to be chosen out of the top 1% of the brackets completed. Just so happens he tied for first. So he could have been randomly chosen out of 115,000 people to win the grand prize. Therefore he wasn’t denied for winning. He wouldn’t have been chosen because he didn’t qualify for the drawing.
    On a better note Best Buy decided to give him a $1000 gift card for his efforts. With that he bought himself a XBox one for himself and one to donate to Make A Wish. So in the end someone else out of the 115,000 will win the grand prize, he got a xbox one and donated one. I think in the end everyone won except for the fact this article would state that ESPN refused to pay.

  • Alison

    That is WEAK on ESPN’s part. If they cannot directly give the kid the $$ or prize he won, they could put the funds in to a college fund for him. Trust me – ESPN can afford it and if they don’t do anything they look like cheap idiots.

  • Chris

    ESPN shows their corporate greed. This is a child who won.

    The Child should get a 20,000 college scholarship

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.