ESPN has reportedly denied a huge prize to the winner of their NCAA bracket contest because he’s just 12-years-old.
Sam Holtz may only be in the sixth grade, but he was able to beat out 11.5 million entrants who all thought they could pick the teams who would make it to the championship. Not only that, but he chose better than the scores of analysts and sports experts who created brackets, as well.
“He called me at work and said he was number six on the leaderboard, and I initially dismissed it. When he showed me that night, I said, ‘Wow, this looks legit,'” Sam’s mother, Liz, told the Daily Herald.
The problem arose when Sam got to the end of the contest and ESPN discovered he’s only 12, as entrants had to be at least 18 years old. The prize was pretty massive: a trip to Maui and a $20,000 gift card for Best Buy. Although he didn’t get the island trip, Best Buy stepped up and reportedly offered him a $1,000 gift card, and on Thursday, Sam went shopping. He bought himself an Xbox One game system, and with the money he had leftover, bought another to donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I decided to donate one of the Xbox One systems to Make-A-Wish because of my cousin Alec. When he was real little, he was in Make-A-Wish, and back then, people granted his wish of going to Disney World. I thought I’d kind of repay them for what they did for my cousin,” Sam said.
Sam is receiving praise this week for his generosity, including from the manager of Best Buy.
“Sam is a very thoughtful young man. It’s great to see his family and grandparents here, and any time anyone gives back to others it’s a wonderful feeling for everyone involved,” Tim Daly said.
Another interesting facet to the story is that Sam’s grandparents, Ron and Anna Marie, are former Make-A-Wish granters themselves.
“Sam’s grandmother and grandfather were former wish-granters with the foundation, so this moment is a real testament to how many people out there support kids. The kids and families in our foundation are going through some real hard times. There are always kids and families out there who are interested in things like what Sam donated today by giving us the XBox One he bought with his Best Buy gift card, and we are truly grateful for his donation,” said Make-A-Wish marketing director Ryan Blackburn.
Sam says there was a mixture of luck and skill involved in choosing the teams, but that he had no special tactics.
“There was some luck, and I studied ESPN.com. I just picked the teams that I felt had the best players.”
[Photo courtesy ABC New/YouTube]