Yahoo to pay $5.5 million for botched billion-dollar bracket contest with Quicken Loans

Judge rules Yahoo violated contract with initial prize promoter

Remember the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge?

If not, here’s a quick refresher. Three years ago, Quicken Loans created a national uproar when it partnered with Yahoo and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to launch the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, a contest involving picking the winners of the NCAA tournament games – all of the winners.

To win the billion dollars, you simply needed to accurately predict the winners of all 63 games in the college men’s basketball tournament and beat the listed odds of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to 1. That’s nine quintillion, by the way.

As it turned out, no one won the billion dollars in 2014, the contest’s first and only incarnation.

Now, three years later, Yahoo will be paying out for the contest, but not for the reason you might think.

The Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge died in 2015 after a prize promoter, SCA Promotions, sued Yahoo for supposedly backing out of a contract to run the billion-dollar challenge.

SCA sued after Yahoo launched the billion-dollar challenge with Quicken and Berkshire Hathaway, instead of with SCA.

Basically, the issue was who came up with the idea first.

Quicken Loans appears to have escaped this whole legal kerfuffle unscathed. Yahoo, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky.

A court ruled Monday in SCA’s favor, ordering Yahoo to pay the company $5.5 million for bailing on the bracket contract.

Reuters has the full story:

Yahoo Inc owes a prize promoter $5.5 million for backing out of a contract to pay $1 billion for predicting every winner in the 2014 NCAA men's basketball tournament, and entering a similar contract with Quicken Loans Inc and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N), a court decided on Monday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said SCA Promotions Inc was entitled to half of its $11 million contract with Yahoo as a cancellation penalty.

As the Reuters article notes, the appeals court overruled a lower court’s ruling that would have seen SCA pay $550,000 back to Yahoo.

Again, from Reuters:

“It has been a long battle over what we thought was a simple contractual provision,” Jon Patton, a lawyer for SCA, said in an interview. “We’re pleased the court of appeals got this right.”

Glad that’s all behind us now, sooooo how about firing up that billion-dollar challenge again in 2018?

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