The first regular season NFL game broadcast exclusively on Amazon’s Prime Video premiered Thursday night, and despite all the pomp and circumstance, it mostly watched like a regular season NFL game.
But one thing I couldn’t get past as I watched Amazon Prime ads dominate the Amazon Prime broadcast, which already requires me to be an Amazon Prime Video subscriber if I want to enjoy Thursday Night Football, was play-by-play voice Al Michaels lauding Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for his mathematical accomplishments in a historical sense.
During the first half of the Kansas City Chiefs–Los Angeles Chargers game, the cameras panned to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sitting in a luxury suite next to Bezos. After Michaels categorized them as “pioneers” and a “power couple,” the play-by-play voice added of Bezos, “He didn’t know how to play craps. I go ‘One of the great mathematical minds in history can’t figure that out?’ I’ll teach.”
If my math is correct, that statement contains one truth and one fallacy. Considering Michaels’ affinity for sports gambling, it’s not surprising to hear the iconic play-by-play voice also knows how to play craps and would be willing to teach the game to someone who can boast a nearly infinite bankroll. But calling Bezos “one of the great mathematical minds in history” …what is Michaels talking about?
I’m sure Bezos is fine on the subject, maybe even great or elite. But in a historical sense, I don’t think Bezos, who founded a book-selling company and lacks a formal mathematical background, will go down as one of the great mathematicians in history.
Bezos has even famously told a story about needing help with a math problem in college, referring to it as a formative moment in his life.
WATCH! The world richest man and Founder & CEO of Amazon, @JeffBezos Explains how a Srilankan guy, Yoshantha, helped him to solve most difficult math problem when he was in Princeton university. and why Srilankan names are three lines long ? #lk pic.twitter.com/fNrIxrDWCK
— Podi Malli (@PodiMalli) September 17, 2018
“That was the very moment when I realized I was never going to be a great theoretical physicist,” Bezos said. So while the newly jacked Amazon founder might be really, really good at math, he definitely isn’t one of the great mathematical minds in history.
Amazon is paying $1 billion for 15 NFL games. If they want to act like a peacock and boast their product as much as possible, fine. There’s an amount of propaganda that I think most of us assumed we’d receive during the broadcast. But we can’t just blanketly qualify Bezos as a historical mathematician when there’s no basis for that whatsoever.