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SBD/March 18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

ESPN.com Bracket Contest Prize Only $10,000 Despite Large Number Of Contestants

The $10,000 grand prize for ESPN.com's Tournament Challenge is "probably the worst prize in all of sports fandom, considering the stakes," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. The "low prize" might have "something to do with the network's partnership with the NCAA and the broadcasting of college basketball games." NCAA officials "have been outwardly uncomfortable with the so-called fantasy games." ESPN also "doesn't technically award" the prize; sponsor State Farm does. The prize "doesn't hurt ESPN.com from a participation standpoint," but it "does hurt the sponsor." Rovell noted while State Farm sponsors the contest, Sprint "sponsors the actual brackets" (CNBC.com, 3/17). Fans submitted more than 5.9 million Men's Tournament Challenge brackets this year, a record for the contest. The runner-up in the men's contest will be named in a random drawing for $5,000. Fans can submit Women's Tournament Challenge brackets until the first game Saturday, and the winner of that contest will receive a $2,000 Best Buy Gift Card (ESPN).
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