March 21, 2014 — -- You had to be in it to win it -- but by late Friday, none of the entrants were still in the running to win Warren Buffett's $1 billion NCAA basketball challenge.
Two days in, Mercer's win over Duke Friday was a big upset that shattered the chances of many participants in Warren Buffett’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge vying for the grand prize.
Three players with perfect brackets remained early in the evening, but after additional late games, the standings showed no one in the running for the big prize.
The pick distribution showed 97.6 percent thought Duke's Blue Devils would shut down the Mercer Bears. But even after a single game on the NCAA March Madness tournament's first day, almost 84 percent of participants were already knocked out when Dayton upset Ohio State.
Even if someone was among the 16.1 percent who correctly picked Dayton in Thursday's game AND the 1.9 percent who picked Mercer in today's, they still weren't in the clear -- because any other wrong pick in the early games would have wrecked their chance at a perfect bracket right out of the gate.
That happened when the three remaining players with perfect brackets got wiped out after Memphis beat George Washington. This means it took just 25 games for everyone to be eliminated.
Results from ESPN’s Tournament Challenge after Thursday looked similarly dire. Over at ESPN, only 18,741 of 11.01 million people (or 0.17 percent) got all 16 games right on the tournament’s first day, ESPN’s Kevin Ota told ABC News.
Check out the March Madness live blog here.
Buffett will get to keep his money another year.
But then, the finance guru probably worked that out before he backed the Quicken Loans’ challenge in January. As ABC News previously reported, the odds of guessing a perfect bracket were estimated by one mathematician to be 1 in 128 billion (and that’s if you know something about basketball). In the same YouTube video, DePaul University's Jeff Bergen explained that there were more than 9 quintillion ways to fill in a bracket.
If any one of the 16 left in the challenge was able to correctly pick every single winner in the tournament, $1 billion could have been all theirs, doled out in 40 annual installments of $25 million, or a single lump-sum payment of $500 million.
The only other heartening news is that 20 people will be eligible to receive Quicken Loans' $100,000 runner-up prizes for picking the tournament's top 20 most accurate "imperfect brackets."