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Basketball: Buffett backs US$1b NCAA contest

Business tycoon Warren Buffett has teamed up with Quicken Loans to offer US punters a $1 billion prize for picking the winner of every game in this year's men's college basketball tournament.

LOS ANGELES: Business tycoon Warren Buffett has teamed up with Quicken Loans to offer US punters a $1 billion prize for picking the winner of every game in this year's men's college basketball tournament.

The odds of filling out a perfect bracket for the 64-team National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) event known as "March Madness"? One expert put it at more than nine quintillion to one.

Quicken said the money would be paid out to anyone who correctly picks the winners of each game in the annual single-elimination tournament to determine the top team in American college basketball.

The contest is free to enter and open to the first 10 million people who apply. The prize money will be paid out in 40 annual payments of $25 million, or a one-time lump sum of $500 million.

If more than one perfect bracket is submitted, the winning entrants will split the money.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is insuring the contest, but the chances of him having to fork over the jackpot at the end of the 64-team tournament on April 7 are slim indeed.

Jeffrey Bergen, a professor of mathematics at Chicago's DePaul University, told The New York Times the odds of choosing all game winners are more than the number nine quintillion, or the number nine followed by 18 zeros, to one.

"I don't think we need to lose any sleep for Mr. Buffett tonight," said Bergen.

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