DETROIT — Correctly predicting the outcome of every game in the NCAA men's basketball tournament is no layup. There's now a $1 billion prize waiting for anyone able to pull off the feat this spring.
Quicken Loans Inc. announced Tuesday that it will team with investor Warren Buffett's Omaha-based Berkshire Hathaway on the "Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge."
The Detroit-based mortgage lender says any qualified entrant who correctly predicts the winners of every game in the tournament will be paid in 40 annual installments of $25 million. A winner also can elect to receive an immediate $500 million lump-sum payment or share in that payment if there's more than one perfect bracket submitted.
It's a safe investment by Buffett's group. ESPN which has run a tournament challenge for the past 16 years that has included President Obama has never had a perfect bracket in over 30 million entries according to the network.
CBS Sports, which also has run a pool for years, said it hasn't had a perfect entry either. Last season, no unblemished brackets made it through the round of 64.
Quicken Loans Inc. said it will offer to split $2 million among the 20 most accurate predictions submitted for the contest. It will also donate $1 million to educational charities in Detroit and Cleveland, the two cities that are the main focus of Quicken founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert's activities.
"We've seen a lot of contests offering a million dollars for putting together a good bracket, which got us thinking, what is the perfect bracket worth? We decided a billion dollars seems right for such an impressive feat," said Jay Farner, president and chief marketing officer of Quicken Loans.
Free registration will begin on Monday, March 3 and runs until Wednesday, March 19. All participants registering prior to the tournament selection process will receive their brackets the evening of Sunday, March 16 when entrants can begin filling out their bracket.
To be eligible, entrants must be 21 years of age, a U.S. citizen and one of the first 10 million to register for the contest. At its sole discretion, Quicken Loans reserves the right to expand the entry pool to a larger number of entrants. Submissions will be limited to a total of one per household.