DraftKings has removed former Bachelor contestant Jade Roper Tolbert as the winner of a daily fantasy sports contest where the top prize was a million dollars.
The decision came weeks after Tolbert originally appeared to be the winner of DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker contest earlier this month. But DraftKings had not officially paid Tolbert the top prize as the company investigated allegations of collusion involving her account and the account of her husband, Tanner Tolbert.
DraftKings changes Millionaire Maker winner
DraftKings did not directly address the situation on Saturday morning, but the news started to break as a result of this rather cryptic tweet:
— DraftKingsNews (@DraftKingsNews) January 25, 2020
ESPN’s David Purdum was the first to connect the dots:
This is related to the controversy over Jade Roper Tolbert, an ex-contestant on "The Bachelor," winning a $1 million DraftKings' fantasy contest during NFL wild-card weekend.
Obviously, the statement is vague. ESPN has reached out to the Tolberts' for comment https://t.co/NBbKvqcExE
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) January 25, 2020
In the wake of the tweet, Tolbert no longer appears as the winner of the Millionaire Maker contest that concluded on Jan. 5. The winner is now former second-place finisher, “spclk36.”
Roper had tweeted about her victory on Jan. 5, but those tweets were deleted on Saturday morning.
DraftKings provided only this short statement when asked by Legal Sports Report about the status of Tolbert’s win:
“As a matter of general policy we do not comment on such matters.”
How did we get here in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker contest?
After the contest, DraftKings users started to allege that her and her husband Tanner were working in concert to enter the contest.
The entry limit for the contest is 150, but both Jade and Tanner entered the maximum amount of lineups allowed, and had almost no overlap in those lineups, a possible sign of collusion. They had both entered the maximum amount of lineups allowed in the same contest throughout the NFL season.
DraftKings announced that it was investigating the matter soon after the contest. As of Saturday, the only evidence of that investigation was the removal of Tolbert’s entries from the Millionaire Maker contest.
Did DraftKings settle with Tolbert?
That might be the most likely scenario, even if she was stripped of the victory.
The timing of the deletion of Tobert’s tweets is hardly a coincidence, although also not hard evidence of a settlement.
The Tolberts, in statements given to the media prior to this decision, have maintained their innocence and insisted that Jade was the legitimate winner of the contest. They have been silent on the matter since the initial coverage of the contest.
If the Tolberts don’t go to court or break their silence on the issue, that would likely be a sign of 1. a settlement or 2. a pile of evidence that the Tolberts were violating DraftKings’ terms of service and that a court case would not result in a favorable decision.
If the Tolberts were found to break DraftKings’ T&C’s, they might also have their accounts banned or restricted, either as part of a settlement or as a finding of a violation. The status of their accounts is unknown.
Is that the end of this?
That’s not at all clear. DraftKings is beholden to daily fantasy sports laws in about 20 states, some of which have clear rules about the maximum number of entries and collusion between users.
Any number of those laws could be used to look into the matter more.
There’s also the issue that the Tolberts are hardly the only users ever accused of circumventing entry limits in this way. While DraftKings is not changing results in other old contests, the spotlight on this issue will be a bit brighter, if only in the DFS community and not in the mainstream.