Forget March Madness, Hottest Bracket Challenge is for 'The Bachelor'

PHOTO: Juan Pablo Galavis, the sexy single father from Miami, Florida, is ready to find love, on the new season of The Bachelor.
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Meghan McGivney and her boyfriend Peter Greczner invited a bunch of friends over to their New York City apartment for a serious face-off.

With their brackets filled out weeks ago, the group gathered around the TV in the couple's Brooklyn living room, passed around beers and snacks and settled in for the main event. But these frenemies weren't about to watch a football game and it's still too early for March Madness.

Instead, they were betting on another venerable American institution -- ABC's wildly popular TV series, "The Bachelor."

With a weekly audience of nine million, the show serves as the ultimate competition and women are eliminated each week until only one remains.

McGivney, 27, Greczner, 26, and their friends, Lindsay Casale, 26, Diana Petty, 26, and Jeremy Glover, 27, each filled out a bracket after the first episode of this latest season, choosing the women they thought would make it the furthest in their quest to win the heart of this season's lucky bachelor, Juan Pablo.

PHOTO: The Bachelor viewers who want to participate in The Bachelor Bracket can choose to play the standard game, either making their picks after the first episode airs, or choosing week to week.
ABC News
PHOTO: "The Bachelor" viewers who want to participate in The Bachelor Bracket can choose to play the standard game, either making their picks after the first episode airs, or choosing week to week.

Only McGivney and Greczner still have their final pick, Nikki, in the running. The other woman still in the running for Juan Pablo's heart, Claire, has been a surprise to the five betters -- not one of them had her in their final two.

Some of them spent hours analyzing the profiles of all 27 female contestants. All have different theories about who Juan Pablo will choose.

"In my experience, it varies on Bachelor and Bachelorette," Lindsay said. "The Bachelors tend [to go] younger."

"I'm all about plus or minus two with age," Greczner chimed in.

"For me, I think it's, will their lifestyle mesh up with his lifestyle and where we think he's going," McGivney said.

The Brooklyn ritual began three seasons ago when McGivney invited her boyfriend, who is a software engineer, to join a "Bachelor" bracket with her and her friends.

"I had never done one of these things before and I googled for 'bachelor bracket' and I didn't really find anything, so just for the five of us, I decided to make a website for it," Greczner said. "We used it and it was pretty fun. They showed their friends and their friends wanted to join."

Greczner's website, thebachelorbracket.com, started with five users and grew to 1,300 during last season's show. Now, Greczner said he has 18,000 users and counting.

Players around the world can choose to play the standard game, either making their picks after the first episode airs, or choosing week to week. Then there are seven custom games, allowing users to bet on everything from one-on-ones to make-out sessions. No money is exchanged –- just points for correct answers and bragging rights. The user with the most points at the end of the season is declared the winner.

But trying to figure out what Juan Pablo Galavis, a former soccer player from Argentina, wants in a companion has not been easy. The 32-year-old has made it known that he's looking for a great stepmother for his daughter, Camilla, and perhaps someone who can help him translate from time to time.

With English as his second language, Galavis has landed himself in hot water this season after apparently telling a reporter why he thought a gay Bachelor wouldn't work on the show, a charge he tried to explain on "Good Morning America."

"It was a misuse of the word in English," Galavis said in a Feb. 11 interview. "It's been hard because, to me, when I speak English, it happened to me two months of filming, sometimes the words that I used were not interpreted the way that they should be interpreted, or I use a wrong word."

'Bachelor' Juan Pablo on Controversy: 'It Was a Misuse of a Word'

But McGivney, Greczner and the rest of the Bachelor Betters are so worried about reading spoilers that they try to avoid coverage of the show and said they completely missed the Argentinian hunk's controversial comments.

So could these sorts of off-screen viewer competitions breathe new life into America's long-standing affair with "The Bachelor"? Even the show's host Chris Harrison admitted that it's getting more challenging to keep the show fresh and keep spoilers from getting out.

"We really like to keep the ending in secret, but embrace the fact that they're dating in public and going out and so we are trying to be as creative as we can, but also don't want to change our show," Harrison said.

But TV Guide magazine writer Ingela Ratledge said betting on the show could be a different way to interact with it.

"It's an extension of our water cooler where we're following the Twitter feeds, we're reading about these people in the gossips and now we're betting on them," Ratledge said. "It's almost like they've become sort of our modern-day gladiators."

Back in McGivney and Greczner's living room, the guests watched with earnest to see if the Bachelor contestants they picked survived the next round. As the final weeks of this season dwindle, they will soon find out who will be crowned the Bachelor Bracket winner.

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