It’s been a week since we learned the fate of young Sam Holtz, the 12-year-old who beat out 11.5 million people to win ESPN Bracket Challenge, yet was disqualified from being awarded the contest’s ultimate prize of a trip to Maui or a $20,000 Best Buy gift card.
Why? Holtz wasn’t at least 18 years old, the minimum age required for participants in the contest.
Personally, I wondered why the kid didn’t just use his dad’s name in the contest entry. I used to do that all the time before I turned 18. But that’s obviously a moot point. And thanks to a generous gesture by Scout.com, Holtz’s family probably isn’t going to lament him not being old enough to win that trip to Hawaii. The sports website is sending the sixth-grader, his parents and older brother for a week-long stay in Maui.
This is certainly a grand, seemingly noble expression by Scout. It’s really a pretty cool thing to do. Of course, Scout also gets some nice, free publicity for this (which we’re contributing to with this article).
However, there are those who believe rules and rules and Holtz broke them by entering ESPN’s contest when he wasn’t old enough to play. Scout Fantasy’s editor-in-chief, Matt De Lima, addressed that in a statement attached to the announcement.
At some point, we all filled out our first bracket and watched our first March Madness tournament. Never in a million years did Sam think he had any shot at winning, but he did. Nobody fills out a bracket expecting to beat 11 million other people. Sam filled out a bracket because he wanted to enjoy March Madness the same way the rest of us have all our lives. So while the adults argue about red tape, rules, regulations, legalities, tax obligations and more, Sam beat your bracket and he beat our brackets too. Kudos to Sam and well done!
Holtz has been getting gifts from people around the country, including a swag bag from ESPN, since news of his story broke. But Scout trumps everyone with the trip to Maui, perhaps seizing an opportunity to try and make ESPN look bad in the process. Should we expect some website or retailer to step up with a $20,000 gift card (even though the prize was an either-or proposition)? You know, Best Buy could probably use the publicity at this point. And is there any other electronics retailer that could match such a prize?
Not that we’re trying to give anyone any ideas at this point. The kid’s already got it pretty good for winning his NCAA bracket and might just be the nation’s currently most popular sixth-grader.