Man With Top March Madness Picks Forgot to Choose Champ

The mix-up puts him out of the running for a $50,000 grand prize.

ByCaitlin Oprysko
March 31, 2016, 2:39 PM
PHOTO: James Kiki is tied for the top spot in Yahoo's March Madness bracket challenge, but he forgot to choose a title game winner.
James Kiki is tied for the top spot in Yahoo's March Madness bracket challenge, but he forgot to choose a title game winner.
Yahoo

— -- Out of the thousands of people who have spent the last few weeks feverishly poring over their NCAA March Madness brackets, James Kiki was not one of them. Yet, Kiki is currently tied for first place out of over 500,000 brackets submitted to Yahoo.

But he won't be claiming the $50,000 final prize because he made one fatal mistake: he forgot to choose the national champion.

The South Sudanese native has lived in Syracuse for the last 15 years and filled out his first bracket ever on a whim in pursuit of Yahoo’s $50,000 grand prize.

Kiki told ABC News that he filled out his bracket on March 17 and had been keeping up with the NCAA Tournament, but forgot about the picks he’d made until last Monday while he was at work.

“I checked on it and I had gotten all these messages saying I messed up,” he said.

Kiki correctly predicted seven out of the Elite 8 teams and he correctly chose all four of the Final Four teams. He chose North Carolina and Villanova to face off in the title game and even made a guess at the final score.

But the option to choose an NCAA champion was towards the top of the bracket and Kiki says nothing on the webpage prompted him to choose a winner or indicated that he hadn't. “It’s funny how they let me submit it.”

Through all of the teasing he’s endured at the hands of his friends, Kiki said that he finds a little bit of comfort in his slight bragging rights. He might not be able to claim the grand prize, “but at least my bracket made it somewhere,” he said.

So who did Kiki think would be crowned champs? “I was gonna have Villanova beating North Carolina,” he said, “but now I’m rooting for Syracuse to win anyways.”

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