Pittsburgh area salesman Jason Schwartz is $125,000 richer from winning Rush Street Interactive’s Pro Football Pick ‘em contest in Pennsylvania, and he gives some of the credit to his late grandmother.
Before her death last year, Schwartz, 37, commonly exchanged weekly betting advice with his grandmother, who liked to place wagers herself.
Though she wasn’t around for the 2020 regular season, he told Rush Street for its press release issued Tuesday morning, “I like to think she played a part in this. It’s a bittersweet win.”
The $125,000 was the grand prize of the contest available to customers of Rush Street’s two online sportsbooks in the state — BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com. It was the second year of the contest, which has an overall prize pool of $500,000.
Rush Street said it had 1,925 entries for the contest, which carried a $150 entry fee.
In the press release, Schwartz was quoted, “I never imagined this. Not even in my wildest dreams. I didn’t sleep for two days.”
He said he is planning to use his winnings to pay off debts and may also use the windfall for a nice summer vacation.
Game winners were chosen straight up, not using spreads
Schwartz said he simply used instinct to pick winning teams early in the season, but became more serious when he realized he was among the contenders to win the top prize. He began researching the teams and their player statistics and betting lines each week.
Instead of using point spreads, the contest called upon entrants to pick the winners of each of the Sunday and Monday NFL games throughout the season. Rush Street said Schwartz picked 172 out of 235 games correctly.
The top weekly entrant received $2,500, and the top 500 players on the season received some amount of cash from the $500,000 pool. A $2,500 prize was also paid to the contestant with the worst season-long record.
For Rush Street and the entrants, it was a relief to see the contest carried to completion after initial concerns in September about how COVID-19 might jeopardize the NFL season.
“This was certainly an unusual NFL season, and this was a great way for sports betting fans to stay involved and get in on the game action,” said Mattias Stetz, chief operating officer of Rush Street Interactive. “After seeing its popularity last season, we were excited to offer this Pick ‘em contest again. We love when our players win huge cash prizes.”