12-year-old ties for 1st in ESPN bracket challenge Sam Holtz, a sixth-grader from Hawthorn Woods, Ill., poses awith his near-perfect ESPN NCAA men's basketball bracket where he picked Duke to defeat Wisconsin in the finals (AP photos / Thinkstock)
12-year-old ties for 1st in ESPN bracket challenge
Lexile

A sixth-grade boy from suburban Chicago completed a near-perfect bracket predicting the NCAA men's basketball tournament. It was good enough to finish in a tie for first in ESPN's massive annual contest.

However, he won't win the biggest prize.

Sam Holtz said ESPN officials told him that is he ineligible to claim the top prize. It is a $20,000 gift card and a trip to the Maui Invitational basketball tournament. That's in Hawaii. He is ineligible because he's 12 years old. ESPN requires participants to be at least 18.

"I'm irritated," Holtz told the Daily Herald newspaper. "Yes, I'm still proud of my accomplishment. But I'm not happy with the decision."

Finishing with the best bracket does not equal an automatic claim to the prize. ESPN awards the prize through a random draw of the brackets that were among the top 1 percent in the contest. This year, that was about 115,700. Kevin Ota, a spokesman for ESPN Digital Media, said the network is putting together some kind of prize for Holtz.

"We plan to have fun with this," Ota said. "The great thing is that this kid beat all these experts out there."

The tournament includes 67 games. Holtz missed only six. He was perfect picking games played in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four. Out of 11.5 million who entered a bracket on ESPN's website, Sam finished tied for first with 1,830 points. That was determined after Duke beat Wisconsin 68-63 in the championship game. He entered 10 brackets in the contest.

"There is no secret," said Holtz. He attends Lake Zurich Middle School North. "There was some luck and I studied ESPN.com. I just picked the teams that I felt had the best players."

What do you think ESPN should award him?

Critical thinking challenge: What was Sam Holtz's successful strategy?

Assigned 49 times


COMMENTS (26)
  • jordanmo-Pen
    4/13/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    a boy named sam holtz ties in 1st place for a espn bracket sam is born in chicago hes 12 years old and has been awared a 20,000 visa gift card

  • OmarA-Cla
    4/13/2015 - 12:14 p.m.

    This is a really good storyI love it it is good really good.

  • JuanM-Cla
    4/13/2015 - 12:16 p.m.

    I think it was awesome because he went to Hawaii and went to a basketball game.

  • NathanielC21-Cla
    4/13/2015 - 12:19 p.m.

    Ithought it was awesome while I was reading.Also it was cool.

  • JacobP21-Cla
    4/13/2015 - 12:19 p.m.

    This boy is very talentedn when it come's to basketball and that's good

  • JuanM-Cla
    4/13/2015 - 12:24 p.m.

    I think it is awesome because he went to HAWAII and watched a basketball game

  • santij-Nim
    4/13/2015 - 03:20 p.m.

    I think that ESPN should award him with to pick his favorite team and get a free ticket to there next game

  • fettep-Nim
    4/13/2015 - 03:21 p.m.

    i think they should award him with the original prize

  • mccraa-Nim
    4/13/2015 - 03:21 p.m.

    I think he should get the really prize because he won 1st place.

  • tsirie-Nim
    4/13/2015 - 03:21 p.m.

    I think they should award him half of the money that was on the gift card and a closer place than Hawaii for a vacation spot or give him his very own blog!!!!!!!!!!

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