March Madness has an entirely different meaning for one 12-year-old bracket-maker.
Sam Holtz, a sixth grader from Lake Zurich, Ill., picked only six NCAA tournament games wrong this year, but he is not eligible for the $20,000 grand prize drawing because he is not 18 years old.
Holtz nailed every pick after the Sweet 16 and had the top bracket on ESPN.com out of more than 11 million submissions.
“I”m irritated,” Holtz said, according to the Daily Herald of Chicago. “Yes, I’m still proud of the accomplishment, but I’m not happy with the decision.”
ESPN puts the top one percent of its brackets in a pool for a $20,000 Best Buy gift card and a trip to the 2015 Maui Invitational. All entrants must be at least 18 years of age, per the site’s rules. Holtz circumvented that stipulation by using his father’s email address.
An ESPN spokesperson Kevin Ota told the Daily Herald that Holtz “beat all of our commentators, all these celebrities, all the college experts. That’s what makes this so awesome. The prize really is secondary.”
ESPN told Holtz it will send him a goody bag of ESPN items for coming in first place.
“It’s still quite a feat,” Holtz’ mother told the Daily Herald . “Oh well, It was a fun ride while it lasted.”