Randy Lee, a 32-year-old poker dealer from New Jersey, won the first-ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship (SBNC). Lee topped the field of 260 entries to win more than $1.15 million in total prize money.
“It’s surreal,” Lee said in the moments immediately after the victory. “Indescribably great. I’m a big Eagles fan and I’ve never rooted for the Eagles to lose in my whole life, until there were six zeroes involved.”
Lee told SharpSide that he’s been sports betting for a while, but not too seriously until sports betting became legal on the East Coast and in New Jersey, specifically. Prior to that, Lee said his forays in sports betting were mostly friendly wagers.
“I’m a student of all sports, so I have a lot of confidence in my ability to bet,” Lee said.
Lee entered Sunday’s final day of the three-day event with the lead, but throughout the day fell out of the top spot. He placed a $47,500 bet to win $90,725 on the Philadelphia Eagles +8.5 and hit it when the Eagles lost 20-14 to the New Orleans Saints to get the cover.
“I wanted to see what everybody else was going to do with their stacks,” Lee said of his decision to not wager as much of his bankroll early on Sunday compared to many of his competitors. “I was at the top of the leaderboard coming into the day and I wanted to see where everyone’s stacks were. We were only allowed to bet on the two NFL games today, so I wanted to see what everyone was sitting at, and I had a pretty confident bet in mind with my stack. As long as everything went right in the first game, I felt like I had a pretty good shot with my bet in the second game if I went with it.”
Now, why Lee was rooting against the Eagles to win was because others behind him in the SBNC contest had bets involving the Eagles moneyline that could’ve overtaken Lee for the million-dollar triumph.
In the final minutes of the Eagles and Saints game, New Orleans kicker Will Lutz lined up for a 52-yard field goal with the score at 20-14 in favor of the Saints. He missed to keep it a 6-point game and allow Lee to cover getting 8.5 points with the Eagles. A made field goal would’ve killed his bet and knocked him down the leaderboard.
“Fifty-two yards is a long field goal for anybody, I don’t care who you are,” Lee said of that missed field goal. “Thank god he missed it! That was the game winner for me, for the most part. That was it. As far as one play goes in the game, that was the biggest one play in the game.”
Lee’s first-place prize included the $1 million leaderboard prize he won for finishing on top, plus his bankroll of $101,474 that he gets to keep. In addition to the $1.1 million Lee won from his bankroll and leaderboard prize, he won a $50,000 bonus for finishing Day 2 on Saturday with the lead.
As every competitor did in the SBNC, Lee started with a $5,000 bankroll. He wagered a total of $106,437 across 19 bets and ran it up to a six-figure bankroll.
“There’s a lot of plans for the money,” Lee said with a big smile. “I’m part of a company called Buck Wild Bison, and I’m building a bison farm and that’s where a lot of the money will go into, besides vacations and so forth. I’ll figure that out as it comes along.”
Final DraftKings SBNC Leaderboard
Coming in second place was Daniel ‘nomoreiloveyous‘ Steinberg. Steinberg ran his $5,000 bankroll up to $88,206 to finish runner-up and take home an additional $350,000 from the leaderboard prizing. That brought his total haul to $438,206.
“It feels just incredible,” Steinberg said of his runner-up finish. “I don’t even know what to say. Also, the $90K bankroll I get to keep, too! It’s great. I’m happy for the guy who won, too. I guess he was a little bit more risky than I went and he deserved it.”
Finishing in third place and taking home a combined $331,891 was professional sports bettor Rufus Peabody, who used the alias of ‘Opti5624’ in the contest. Peabody ended with a bankroll of $81,891 and earned a $250,000 third-place leaderboard prize to go with it.
The end of Peabody’s SBNC contest was an interesting one, though. He came into the final day fourth on the leaderboard and fired his entire bankroll of $42,875 on the New England Patriots -3.5 in the first NFL playoff game of the day. Peabody stood to win $81,891, but with the Patriots game against the Los Angeles Chargers running long, the bet wasn’t graded and paid out in time for him to place another bet before the next game started.
With all bets locking when the second NFL game of the day kicked off, Peabody was sitting atop the leaderboard but without any wagers pending, so he just had to sit and wait and see. It was out of his hands. Ultimately, he was overtaken and finished in third place. A few competitors had moneyline bets on the Eagles, so if there is any silver lining for Peabody, it’s that he could’ve fallen further had the Eagles won outright.
Finishing in 11th place was Cal Spears, CEO of RotoGrinders. He scored $23,962 from his bankroll to go along with a $25,000 leaderboard prize to win a total of $48,962.
Peter Jennings, ‘csuram88,’ took 23rd in the SBNC contest for a total of $24,894 from a bankroll of $9,894 and a leaderboard prize of $15,000.
“I said when you first came over that it was surreal and outrageous, and I stick with that,” Lee said when asked about his experience at the first-ever DraftKings Sports Betting National Championship. “DraftKings did a phenomenal job.”