DraftKings and ESPN have joined forces to give fans of both season-long fantasy sports and one-day fantasy sports a joint contest that seems incongruent with both business models, but super awesome anyway. Why? Well, because these two companies, caught in the never-ending fantasy wars, are giving away $10 million in an attempt to stay ahead of their competitors.

A $10-million team-up? This is like the time as a kid when Scooby-Doo and the gang teamed up with Batman and Robin and it made absolutely no sense other than both were very popular at the time and did basically the same thing—a bat and a bird and a talking dog and whatever Shaggy is all fighting crime in some of the sweetest rides of that generation—because, hey, things that are popular only stay popular by associating with other things that are popular!

Once again, everybody wins—or, in this case, a handful of people who are really, really good at fantasy sports and also incredibly lucky and clearly not The Joker or Penguin. From the ESPN release on the partnership:

DraftKings Inc., a leading destination for daily fantasy sports, today announced the start of the $10 Million Guaranteed Millionaire Maker Fantasy Football Contest that will take place during Week One of the pro football season when the grand prize winner will walk away with $2 Million and the second place winner will take home $1 Million.

That seems pretty straightforward, and incredibly lucrative for the winner of a one-day fantasy event. Members of the DraftKings platform can pay $20 for a chance to win the grand prize for games played on September 13th and 14th, the latter consisting of two nationally televised Monday Night Football games on ESPN.

If you log on, pick your fantasy team and end up with the most points in the entire country, you win two million bucks! Finish second to that guy and DraftKings, because why not if you have it, will give you one million! It’s that simple.

Only, it’s really not simple at all, because there’s more. A lot more—money, that is. We’re talking about money.

ESPN, the leader in fantasy sports games and content for more than 20 years, is teaming up with DraftKings to award the ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager player who secures the highest number of fantasy points in the DraftKings Week One Millionaire Maker an additional $1 Million to split between all members of his or her season-long 2015 ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager league(s).

This is what happens when you get flush with money and you have no idea what to do with it. This is one of those contests that somewhere along the way was an awesome idea and then lawyers and board room higher-ups changed like 50 different elements to it so it’s not anywhere near what the original, probably brilliant idea, was but who the hell cares when you can win boatloads of money for playing fantasy sports.

DraftKings has been filling vessels full of cash for a while now and, like its biggest competitor FanDuel, partnering with every media company it can to cross pollenate the fantasy sports landscape.

Undoubtedly those who play daily fantasy games also play season long games, but the reason the daily fantasy experience has taken off so much in the last few years—other than the whole “it’s clearly gambling but since you’re betting on players not teams we call it fantasy sports so it’s legal everywhere”—is because of the instant gratification of it all, and the ability to wash away the loses in a day, not suffering over the course of a five or sixth month regular season.

Look, most of us know by the third week of the year if we have any chance to win our fantasy league, and for those who know they’re out of the running before the first bye week, daily fantasy has been a blessing from the fantasy gods.

Only now, if TommySoftBallsLOL is the worst player in a 10-team season-long league because he’s convinced Geno Smith is primed to have a bounce-back year and took the Houston Texans in the fourth round because J.J. Watt is going to win MVP this season and he will fight anyone who disagrees with him, the season isn’t ruined just yet. ESPN and DraftKings might give Tommy $100,000!

At least, that’s what the release says. Twice:

Additionally, the ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager player who finishes with the highest-scoring entry will be awarded a bonus $1 Million to be shared with their ESPN League Manager league member(s).

To recap: If you play at DraftKings, and spend $20 to enter their Millionaire Matchmaker contest, you can win one or two million bucks. If you also play season-long fantasy at ESPN using their ESPN League Manager product, you can win an additional million bucks to spread across your entire league evenly.


No, you don’t get to give less to Tommy because he’s a jerk. In fact, the more leagues you are in, the less money each member gets. Oh, and you don’t actually get any of the money. Let DraftKings explain:

ESPN user who obtains the highest score in the DraftKings Week 1 Football $10MM Millionaire Maker (the “ESPN Winner”) will win $100,000 which will be deposited into your DraftKings account.

If the ESPN Winner is a member of multiple 2015 ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager leagues, the remaining $900,000 will be split among all members of all the 2015 ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager leagues that the winner is a member of.

All shares will be distributed through 2015 ESPN Fantasy Football League Manager league members’DraftKings’ accounts.

“No, guys…guys…I’m telling you, you have to sign up for DraftKings. I know you only do the one ESPN fantasy league because we’ve been doing it there since high school and you only update your roster once a week because I beg you to, but I’m serious…I’m seeerrrrriouuuuusss…you have to sign up for one-day fantasy at DraftKings because I’m totally going to win two million bucks and then another million is going to get spread between all of you. Well, yeah, not to you, but to your DraftKings account so you can use it to bet on one-day fantasy games over and over again until you lose it because gambling—sorry, sorry one-day fantasy sports—is incredibly difficult.”

And there you have it; another in a long line of “hey we have money what should we do with this money” partnerships between one-day fantasy and the companies that fund them who also make a ton of money on season-long fantasy. Oh, and if the contest isn’t convoluted enough, for official rules and to sign up for this ESPN partnership with DraftKings, users have to log on to DraftKings.com/ESPN and ESPN.com/DraftKings because of course you do.

About Dan Levy

Dan Levy has written a lot of words in a lot of places, most recently as the National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. He was host of The Morning B/Reakaway on Sirius XM's Bleacher Report Radio for the past year, and previously worked at Sporting News and Rutgers University, with a concentration on sports, media and public relations.

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