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January 22, 2014

$1 billion offered for perfect tournament bracket

Quicken Loans says it considers prize a safe investment

DETROIT (AP) — 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, Neb.-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 Barack 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.

Submissions are limited to one per household.

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