On a busy Sunday devoid of major upsets, thousands of customers prevailed in FanDuel Sportsbook’s unique Sports Equinox challenge.
More than 30,000 users correctly picked at least 20 of 26 games in the freeroll, earning an equal share of a $500,000 prize pool. The payout amounts to $16.52 per customer. A sports equinox occurs on a rare occasion when the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA each schedule play on the same day. Prior to Sunday’s slate, the equinox only took place 18 other times in U.S. professional sports history.
Two players went 26-for-26 in Sunday’s contest to produce a perfect sheet. The two entrants, one female and one male, are casual players whose experience is limited predominantly to the daily fantasy side, said FanDuel Chief Marketing Officer Mike Raffensperger. FanDuel sweetened the pot with an additional prize for the two winners, but did not disclose the monetary amount.
Had the two entrants played a 26-team moneyline parlay, the odds of hitting the bet were astronomical. FanDuel estimated that the parlay, based on the moneyline price of all 26 games prior to Sunday’s 1 pm ET kickoff, stood at approximately 10,000 to 1.
The results are in!
More than 30,000 #SportsEquinox entries correctly picked the winners of at least 20 of the 26 games played on Sunday 🤯
If you're one of them, you've just been credited with an equal share of the $500,000 payout: $16.52 each 💰 pic.twitter.com/3GNkhImScU
— FanDuel (@FanDuel) October 28, 2019
Favorites prevail at a high clip
On a day when favorites came in at a high rate, the public largely avoided double-digit underdogs at the moneyline. Contest entrants backed a litany of favorites in games with lopsided results. More than 95% of entrants took the Lakers over the Hornets (97.3%), the Rams over the Bengals (98%), the Seahawks over the Falcons (96%) and the Saints over the Cardinals (96%). The three NFL favorites all won by at least a touchdown, while the Lakers used a fourth-quarter run to defeat the Hornets 120-101.
There were also a number of close calls. Approximately 92% of entrants selected the Colts over the Broncos in a tight game in Indianapolis. The Colts, which trailed for the majority of the game, took their first lead on a 51-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 22 seconds left. The score held up when the Broncos fumbled three plays later to end the game. A late score by the Texans in their 27-24 win over the Raiders also bolstered the chances of many entrants on the fence.
There were about 30,000 additional entrants that finished with 19 correct selections, missing the prize by one pick. Several upsets on the day knocked out a large percentage of the contest. Few entrants expected the Golden State Warriors to struggle defensively in an early-season matchup against Oklahoma City. The Thunder shot 55% from the floor, including 15-of-32 from 3-point range, in a 120-92 victory. Only 13.2% of contest entrants correctly picked the Thunder over the Warriors.
Several other correct picks were largely ignored by the public. Edmonton entered a matchup against the Florida Panthers with an 8-2-1 record, but struggled offensively in a 6-2 defeat. Only 11% of entrants selected the Panthers in a rare off night for the Oilers. The Senators also prevailed 5-2 over the Sharks in an upset correctly picked by just 37% of contestants. The Timberwolves and Chargers also recorded upsets on Sunday.
FanDuel took steps to make the equinox as inclusive as possible by giving entrants a chance to split the prize pool despite making several incorrect picks. It is one reason the company did not require contestants to hit all 26 picks from the four professional leagues.
“We did try to structure it so a great number of people had winning experiences,” Raffensperger told Sports Handle.
Another equinox in 2020
While Major League Baseball has yet to schedule World Series dates for next season, each of the last five Fall Classics have taken place during the final week of October. Raffensperger is unsure on the exact figure, but noted that the sports equinox has been more common in recent years. In years when a World Series game is scheduled for November, there is a strong probability that all four leagues will hold games on the same day.
Given customer interest in the sports equinox and high demand for free-to-play contests, FanDuel appears interested in offering an equinox challenge again.
“I would certainly be happy if it worked out next year to have another one,” Raffensperger said.