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, finishing in a tie for first in ESPN's massive annual contest.

Sam Holtz said ESPN officials told him that is he ineligible to claim the top prize a $20,000 gift card and a trip to the Maui Invitational basketball tournament because he's 12 years old and 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 about 115,700 this year. 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 and Holtz missed only six. He was perfect picking games played in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four and out of 11.5 million who entered a bracket on ESPN's website, Sam finished tied for first with 1,830 points after Duke beat Wisconsin 68-63 in the championship game. He entered 10 brackets in the contest.

"There is no secret," said Holtz, who 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."

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

Assigned 9 times


COMMENTS (31)
  • JDevon-Cas
    4/10/2015 - 04:11 p.m.

    It is cool that he beat out all of the analysts being only twelve. I hope he still gets a good prize even though he is under eighteen. This should be a heads up to all the other kids who do this to involve their parents so they can keep the prize money.

  • GrantW-2
    4/10/2015 - 09:17 p.m.

    This article is about a boy who had an almost perfect bracket in the NCAA tournament. This boy lives in Chicago and is 12 years old and in 6th grade. March Madness Brackets are nearly impossible to fill out completely correct because there is 60+ teams. I filled out a bracket and didn't come close to winning.

  • BDaniel-Cas
    4/11/2015 - 09:34 p.m.

    I actually feel for him, because I've technically won something that I wasn't eligible for, and had to give up the prize. But it was no where near as big as getting an almost perfect march madness bracket! I would be so upset and disappointed. But those are some crazy bragging rights! Like I'm 12 and I beat grown men who are considered experts at something that I just used luck, and little knowledge from ESPN.com to win! So hats off to him!

  • JacobM-5
    4/12/2015 - 10:52 p.m.

    This article was about a young kid who entered in the ESPN NCAA tournament and won with a nearly perfect game. Holtz was the name of the kid and he was a twelve year old kid who lived in Chicago. The winner of the tournament by ESPN was suppose to win 20,000 dollars and a trip to Maui. The ESPN hosts then decided he was not 18 which is the age and was ineligible. Holtz did not agree with this decision, nut was happy about his achievement.

  • vincet-Koc
    4/13/2015 - 01:32 a.m.

    In the article he even claims it was luck, but I think it was stupid to not give him something, he deserves to win something i believe. He got the closest, he wins fair and square.

  • mattf-Koc
    4/13/2015 - 02:56 a.m.

    All I can say is if I won or tied in my bracket and didn't get my grand prize of 20,000$ or a trip to Maui because I was under 18 I would be furious. I don't think I would ever watch basketball again, or ESPN for that matter with their dumb rules.

  • Js2001ege
    4/13/2015 - 08:46 a.m.

    There is no secret," said Holtz, who 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."

  • DD2001basketball
    4/13/2015 - 08:59 a.m.

    His succesful strategy was to study espn and find out what teams were winning the most. So he looked at their records, stats, and chemistry.

  • CW2000Swaggie
    4/13/2015 - 09:00 a.m.

    Sam Holt's successful strategy was to enter like ten different brackets and choose different outcomes for all the brackets. This was a smart idea, because he had a higher chance of winning.

  • juliannc
    4/13/2015 - 09:18 a.m.

    i see why he cant get becauesyou said you must be 18 years old .but hem won so you have give him some thing .cool that was grate he made ti!

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