NFL DraftKings Player Wins $1,000,000!

On the Sunday before Christmas there was a daily fantasy sports event on DraftKings, which guaranteed a $1,000,000 first-place prize. James Tran from Los Angeles, California was the man with the golden team as he put together a line up that ultimately made him $1,000,000. After a grueling Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons it was Tran who won the competition by less than one point!

“Unbelievable!” Tran told us when we asked him how it felt to win a million dollars. “My friends and family kept asking each other, ‘How many people do you know who can say, ‘I personally know someone who won a million-dollar contest,’ Well, now we can!” Tran added.

Tran’s family was obviously ecstatic, in shock and beyond happy with this amazing result as he turned $1,500 into a seven-figure payday. “We keep thanking god for the opportunity and hope to give back. We can pay off bills, fix the house, invest and save money because of this,” Tran said.

Many people wonder, as they also do with something like poker, if daily fantasy sports are a game of skill. While some people just randomly fill in their line-ups, and therefor gamble, others choose a mathematical approach to picking the 10 players looking to score a big win. Tran is one of the latter, and he explains the following.

“I use spreadsheets containing over 3,000 rows of data capturing a player’s performance during the past seasons. This allows me to make a forecast on player’s FFPTS (Fantasy football points) and compare various statistics. My typical stats include yards per pass, yards per rush or catch, number of throws from a QB to an individual player, catch percentage, match up rankings in respective categories, offensive touch downs, individual team touch downs, allowed touch downs, FFPTS-per player value and many more. There are just forecasts I have and there is a lot of variance. If we minimize variance the reward may not be as high, and on the other hand if the risk is too high the chance of getting a good result are also much smaller,” Tran said.

The world of fantasy sports keeps growing and even in the actual sports industry there’s regular attention for all our imaginary teams. We can safely assume that fantasy sports are here to stay. As something that once started as rotisserie baseball among friends, perfectly explained in ESPN’s 30 for 30 ‘Silly Little Game’ on the first ever league back in 1980, is now a multi-billion dollar industry played by more than 25 million Americans.

For anyone who’s not from North America, or hidden in a cave somewhere, here’s a little explanation to what fantasy sports actually are. In fantasy sports you draft your own current professional athletes who ultimately make up your team. In either head-to-head scoring, points per category or added up points you rank against your friends/opponents with the ultimately goal of becoming the league champion. The draft is either in an auction or snake format, depending on what kind of league you’re in. Nobody in the league ends up with the same players because of this type of fantasy sports.

Now here’s the big difference with the latest hype in fantasy sports, as daily fantasy sports give you the opportunity to have the same players as your opponents if it fits your budget. Everyone who enters starts with a $50,000 budget of which you can purchase players. Different players have different values and therefor every team is different. The event won by Tran had 2,250 entrants and here’s a look at Tran’s team (bundafever) and the second place finisher al_smizzle.

Second place finisher al_smizzle was within a point of winning a million bucks

James Tran’s winning line up!

“I approach daily fantasy sports, in this case fantasy football, as an investment. I spent a lot of time gathering and analyzing data. It can be considered work, but I actually enjoy watching the games and the work involved in making my line-ups,” Tran added about the way he plays.

“This is a game of skill. This is not a brag, but it would be hard to mathematically convince me that three out of my four entries placed in the Top 300 due to luck,” Tran said.

“I would not categorized myself as an experienced investor similar to analysts who cover various companies and sectors. I do however have some knowledge of fantasy football, and now I will be able to brag about it! It’s hard to argue with a million dollars!”

If you are also an avid fantasy sports player there are many more big events coming up. While the NFL season is over there are plenty of other sports still going on. There is a big $1,000,000 Guaranteed NBA event in March 26th with $100,000 for the winner and a $100,000 Guaranteed NHL event on February 23rd. DraftKings even offers great options for poker players because of its partnership with the World Poker Tour. Qualify now for WPT events via DraftKings daily fantasy competitions. 

“We’re always trying to run the biggest and most exciting promotions possible in sports,” Jonathan Aguiar, DraftKings VIP manager, said as we can’t wait for what’s to come in the upcoming MLB and NFL season.

Monday Night Football turned out to be the deciding factor, and James Tran won!

Daily fantasy sports are still in its infancy, and who knows where the ceiling lies. DraftKings obtained a $24 Million investment in November 2013 while FanDuel received $11 Million back in January of last year. As for Tran, he’ll make sure that the money not just goes towards more fantasy sports and his own family, as he plans to do good and pay it forward.

“I’ve already given to multiple charities including St. Jude Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles Mission, Orange County Mission, school, various churches and there’s still many more to come,” Tran closed out with.

Remko Rinkema

Remko Rinkema has covered the biggest poker tournaments in the world since 2008, including many WSOP, EPT, Aussie Millions, APPT, MCOP and Unibet Open events. As an in-depth interview and story enthusiast he tries to do things a little differently. Besides the usual writings Rinkema grabs every chance to appear on podcasts, live streams and in the occasional video.

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