LEHI, Utah — The NCAA men's tournament was a rollercoaster of emotions for a lot of people, but maybe none more one lucky Utah man.
Chris Jacobsen, a dentist in Lehi, beat more than 14 million other people and walked away with the winning spot in ESPN’s 2021 Tournament Challenge.
Jacobsen said there was a little bit of strategy, but mostly luck when he filled out his nearly perfect March Madness bracket.
After the second round, Jacobsen (whose username for the competition is “chrizzlybear”) noticed he was in 400th place.
But from that point on, he didn't miss a single winner.
Saturday night’s Final Four thriller between #1-ranked Gonzaga and 11th-seed underdog UCLA, however, was quite a nail-biter for Jacobsen.
“UCLA made that tying putback and I’m like, ‘I can't take a double overtime. I cannot mentally or physically take a double overtime!’” he said. “Then Suggs drives down, makes that improbable shot, and my wife and I just kind of both looked at each other wide-eyed. I yelled a little bit, and she reminded me that our one-year-old was asleep.”
The feeling was surreal.
“I kid you not — I went numb,” he laughed. “And it's like, ‘Why do I care this much?’ I was, like, reevaluating my life — why do I care this much?”
Jacobsen’s premonitions were so nearly perfect that his prediction for the championship game's final score was only off by eight points.
Although he was the clear winner, he is not guaranteed a prize. Instead, he will be entered into a drawing along with the rest of the top 1% bracket owners for a single grand prize: an all-inclusive trip for two to Hawaii for the 2021 Maui Jim Maui Invitational basketball tournament, as well as $10,000 in Amazon gift cards.