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Yes, you can win a billion dollars at DraftKings, without paying to enter the “Billion Dollar Lineup” challenge. The contest is free to play and awards a prize pool of $100,000 to the users that craft the best lineups, even if they aren’t perfect.
But players entering the contest will be hoping to win the billion dollars for hitting the perfect the lineup, or the equivalent of the lottery for daily fantasy sports.
“For the last five NFL seasons, DraftKings has led the way in innovation and breakthrough ideas creating the game inside the game that only daily fantasy sports can provide,” said DraftKings Chief Marketing Officer Janet Holian in a press release. “This year, the Billion Dollar Lineup is the ultimate opportunity for players to test their skills and kick off the new NFL season with the potential to win $1 billion.”
DraftKings is promoting the contest with at least two commercials:
DraftKings says it “will calculate the perfect lineup by determining all possible valid lineup combinations given the NFL Week 1 results under the normal salary cap and roster restrictions. The perfect lineup will be the highest possible scoring lineup.”
Basically, that means you have to pick the top scoring player in terms of fantasy points at each of nine positions (quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, tight end, flex and a team defense/special teams) in a DraftKings lineup.
That must be done while creating a lineup that fits under DraftKings’ salary cap structure.
DraftKings certainly doesn’t have a billion dollars sitting around. The contest, like many contests with a huge amount of money on the line, is being insured, per the official contest page:
Smaller DFS sites — most notably the now defunct DraftDay — once offered a million dollars if anyone generated the perfect lineup for any of its contests.
The contest is also probably insured at a reasonable rate because it’s unlikely anyone will win it.
DraftKings does not provide odds for winning the contest. In the official rules, it says this:
And to DraftKings’ credit it, it does make it sound pretty difficult to win, on the contest page:
This is the most challenging promotion we’ve ever offered. You aren’t going to win a billion dollars by drafting a good lineup or even a great one. To win $1 billion, you’ll need to draft the “perfect lineup.” Anyone who plays fantasy football knows how tough the challenge really is. This promotion can be won, but to conquer this ultimate test of skill, you’ll need to be perfect.
But DraftKings does not put any odds on the possibility.
While being good at DFS certainly would be better than a randomly generated lineup or one done with little research, the odds of hitting on it are extremely low, even for a very skilled player. It’s not clear if anyone has ever actually done this in the history of DFS for an NFL contest.
There’s room for debate about how likely the perfect lineup is to achieve. It’s somewhere on the wide spectrum between “impossible” and “a very skilled player will have a good chance.” No matter what you might believe about the odds of hitting the perfect lineup are, they are likely worse than winning a Powerball jackpot, a lottery with long odds but no skill involved.
According to industry analysts contacted by Legal Sports Report, they put the odds of putting together a perfect lineup at one in two trillion. The same analysts came up with these comps at those odds: