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A crazy weekend at Chambers Bay in Washington state produced a memorable finish to the 115th U.S. Open. And for all the controversy surrounding the golf course and Fox Sports’ coverage of the major championship, this year’s U.S. Open produced an uptick in television ratings from last year (though historically still low).
That general interest may or may not have helped DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker contest, which again appears to be have been an unqualified success.
DraftKings filled its more than 143,000 entries more than 12 hours before the deadline to enter. And just moments after the contest sold out, DraftKings had announced that it will host an even larger contest for the British Open, which tees off on July 16.
This seems to be a solid sign that DraftKings expects the upward trend in its daily fantasy sports golf vertical to continue.
“The DraftKings U.S. Open Millionaire Maker most definitely surpassed our expectations,” a DraftKings spokesperson, who preferred to remain unnamed, told Legal Sports Report. “We had more than 143,000 entries and the exciting finish provided incredible drama that truly demonstrated what fantasy sports is all about.”
Like the Open itself, the winner of the Millionaire Maker came down to the tournament’s final putt.
David Kaplen, of San Antonio, needed Dustin Johnson to convert his eagle attempt that would have given Johnson the win over Jordan Spieth. Instead, Johnson missed an eagle putt and then the birdie putt, sending Spieth to his second major championship win this year.
That turned out to be great news for Carl Bassewitz, a 53-year-old from the Houston area. Playing on DraftKings for the first time, according to the company, Bassewitz rode Jason Dufner, Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed and Spieth into contention. Then Bassewitz surged past Kaplen on the tournament’s final hole to earn the contest’s $1 million first prize.
The way the contest played out proved to be a positive for DraftKings. One, such final-round drama makes DFS golf more exciting for participants, DraftKings said. And two, Bassewitz has long been an actual fan of golf, a sign that the contest is reaching traditional followers of the sport.
“The grand prize winner is a serious golf fan who used his knowledge of the sport and the golfers who were competing to select his lineup,” the spokesperson said. “His knowledge and skills were ultimately rewarded.”
ESPN’s David Purdum caught up with both the winner and the second-place finisher.
Played at the birthplace of golf, St. Andrews, DraftKings’ British Open contest will expand to 171,700 entries with a guaranteed prize pool of $3 million.
The winner will again get $1 million and nearly 38,000 entrants will receive at least some payout. The entry fee will stay $20, and satellites will run through July 12.
The Millionaire Maker still has a ways to go if it is to surpass the actual British Open’s purse of more than $9 million. But the explosive growth of DFS golf continues. And it appears to be only the beginning for DraftKings.
“The response we have gotten to our Millionaire Maker offerings for PGA’s majors does indicate that we may have only scratched the surface,” the DraftKings spokesperson said. “The unpredictable nature and excitement of the competition at these golf tournaments thoroughly engages the fantasy sports community. We will continue to provide unique opportunities in this space.”