A 28-year-old Meriden man could have been $100,000 richer after UConn took the title Monday night, but he says an Internet error dashed his hopes of a winning bracket.
Corey Johnson was one of about 7 million to build a bracket with the Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge hosted by Yahoo Sports, he says. He was tied for fourth place going into the NCAA national championship game Monday afternoon and was banking on a UConn win.
But as he was checking his bracket Sunday before the game, he noticed something was wrong.
“As I’m going through the leader boards and everything, I’m noticing that everybody else has a championship winner except for me,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Johnson’s final selection hadn’t saved properly. The field where the winner should have been listed was blank.
“Since there was no winner, you know, I’m pretty much out of luck there,” he explained.
The top 20 bracket entrants were slated to win $100,000 each.
A UConn fan, Johnson had the Huskies winning it all. As for Kentucky, he said he was hoping for a “Cinderella-type story” pitting two lower seeds against one another in the championship game.
“I knew Kentucky had a solid little basketball team and was just thinking to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Kentucky and UConn met up in the championship?’” he said.
But as he watched the title game Monday night, he thought back to that empty spot on his bracket and knew he was in trouble either way.
“It was not a win-win for me at all,” Johnson said.
Johnson also correctly picked three of the Final Four teams, seven of the Elite Eight teams and 11 of the Sweet 16 teams.
After noticing the error, Johnson searched the bracket challenge website for a way to get in touch with the organizers, but said he couldn’t locate a contact number and eventually gave up.
“This is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack,” he explained, adding that it seemed impossible to get ahold of anyone.
Johnson said he would have used his winnings to pay off tuition at Porter and Chester Institute, where he studies heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and to buy a new car.
“It’s unfortunate that it happened to me,” he said. “I definitely could have used the money for lots of things.”
He’s a good sport, though. Johnson has been reminding himself that at least he didn’t lose money and added that the national media attention has been “kind of cool.”
Friends have started a Change.org petition asking Quicken Loans and Yahoo Sports to honor Johnson’s bracket and pay up.
It’s been shared on social media with the hashtag #PayCoreyJohnson and had received nearly 300 signatures at the time this story was published.
Local news sources including the Meriden Record-Journal reached out to Yahoo and Quicken Loans for comment and did not hear back.
Photo Credit: Corey Johnson