DraftKings Investigates Cheating Accusations Against Celebrity Winner of $1m Contest

  • Jade and Tanner Tolbert under investigation for potential collusion during NFL playoffs contest
  • Couple allegedly coordinated their lineups to improve chances of Jade bagging $1m top prize
  • Other contestants were quick to point out cheating evidence, Tolberts maintain win was pure luck
daily fantasy sports written in black marker
DraftKings is investigating the celebrity winner of a $1m fantasy sports contest prize after it was alleged that she and her husband cheated their way to victory. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Suspicions of potential cheating

DraftKings is currently investigating a celebrity couple from the Bachelor in Paradise reality TV series for allegedly cheating to win a fantasy sports contest prize worth $1m. 

The sports betting provider is looking for indications of collusion between Tanner Tolbert and wife Jade Roper Tolbert during their participation in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker daily fantasy contest this past weekend. The power couple met and got married on the reality show in 2016.

Other players quick to object

After an eventful series of playoff games, Jade Roper Tolbert was revealed as the $1m prize winner. However, other players in the competition quickly objected as suspicions arose.

twice the chance of winning the top prize in comparison to the other players

The players provided potential evidence of the couple cheating. Both Jade and her husband had 150 picks each and very little overlap at all with their lineups. This mathematical advantage gave them twice the chance of winning the top prize in comparison to the other players in the competition, who were limited to just 150 picks. With only four games forming part of this contest, the odds of winning were massively in the couple’s favor.

Following the allegations, DraftKings said: “We take the integrity and fairness of our contests very seriously and are looking into this matter.”

The couple’s response

A representative has released a statement on behalf of the celebrity couple in defence of Jade’s victory.

The statement first acknowledges that DraftKings is within its right to conduct its “due diligence.” It then questions the allegations, asking: “would the questions, accusations and curiosity about this win be the same if the winner had been male and someone who wasn’t already in the public eye?”

The statement describes Jade’s win as “pure luck”, adding that the couple is confident DraftKings will come to the same conclusion following its investigation.

Tanner Tolbert is said to be a big fan of the NFL, regularly tweeting about games. Jade has not recently tweeted about football, with the exception being the announcement of her DraftKings contest success at the weekend.

The fantasy sports contest

In the DraftKings Millionaire Maker challenge, each contestant chooses a lineup of players. The subsequent rankings are determined by their playing statistics. Each of the contestants can enter 150 different lineups, with each entry costing $25.

The competition won by Jade Roper Tolbert was for the first stages of the NFL playoffs, which took place on January 4 and 5. The Tolberts each spent $3,750 to take part. 

As per the DraftKings rules, players cannot collude “with any other individual(s) or engag[e] in any type of syndicate play.” Contestants can only have a single account each, which ensures that everything is fair and competitive. The rules also state that is is not acceptable behavior for people to partake in “team-building complementary lineups which serve to work together AND execut[e] a strategy that may create any unfair advantage over individual play.”

A tricky issue for DraftKings

The Tolberts’ cheating scandal comes at a time when DraftKings is expanding its sports betting presence across the United States.

The operator also recently announced plans to merge with SBTech and Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. If this goes ahead, it will see DraftKings become a public company with a $3.3bn valuation. 

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