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Odds On Winning the Buffett Bracket Challenge

Warren Buffett Billion Dollar Bracket

Do you remember Lloyd Christmas’ line in Dumb and Dumber — “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…”? It’s a line that seems rather fitting for Warren Buffett’s Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge, where the perfect bracket wins you $1 billion.

So, what are the odds of someone picking every single game correctly in the 68-team NCAA basketball tournament? U professor Evelyn Lamb writes in her Scientific American blog that they’re are a lot higher than the one-in-a-million odds Mary gave Lloyd.

There are two possible outcomes of every game and therefore 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (about 9 quintillion) different brackets we could create, giving us a 1 in 9 quintillion chance of winning. Not so hot.

But that estimate assumes that each bracket is equally likely to win, which is clearly false. Even if you know almost nothing about basketball, you’re not going to pick a bracket that has the 16 seeds in the Final Four. Jeff Bergen, a math professor at DePaul University, estimates that there is a 1 in 128 billion chance that if you have a good amount of basketball knowledge, you’ll pick a correct bracket. Still not great, but much more optimistic than 1 in 9 quintillion.

So, while unlikely, there is a chance you could take home that $1 billion. There’s also a chance Lloyd and Mary get together in Dumb and Dumber 4. Just don’t count on either happening anytime soon.