Former “Bachelor” contestant Jade Roper-Tolbert believed she won $1 million when she finished in first place in DraftKings’ “Millionaire Maker” contest during the NFL’s wild-card playoff weekend.
DraftKings congratulated her on social media. She celebrated the windfall on Twitter.
But after outcry that she colluded with her husband and former “Bachelorette” contestant Tanner Tolbert, DraftKings updated the results for the contest on Saturday with a new winner and an explanation on Twitter that it “decided to update the standings for several contests.”
New winner, no response from Roper-Tolbert
That’s the end of the explanation from DraftKings. Roper-Tolbert has protected her Twitter account and hasn’t publicly commented since the news broke.
An unidentified user by the handle of “spclk36” now sits atop the standings. Attorney Alan Milstein, who represents “spclk36” in the dispute, confirmed on Twitter that his client is indeed the winner.
Thrilled to announce my client has been declared the winner of the DraftKIngs Millionaire Maker Contest. I have had my share of interesting cases but never conceived this would be one of therm.
— Alan Milstein (@amilst44) January 25, 2020
Roper-Tolbert’s presumed win from the weekend of Jan. 5 made news thanks to the size of the prize and her status as a realty TV celebrity. But when users scrutinized her lineups next to those of her husband’s, accusations that the two colluded to gain an advantage in the contest gained traction on social media.
More than 100,000 $20-dollar entries were submitted in the contest.
How the alleged collusion happened
Daily fantasy users noticed Roper-Tolbert and Tolbert each submitted the maximum 150 entries allowed into the “Millionaire Maker” contest at $20 per entry, which was within the rules of the contest.
What’s not allowed is collusion between two players to build lineups. Out of the 300 combined entries, 298 of them were unique, according to ESPN, a sign pointing to coordination between the married couple.
Tolbert is known as a high-volume, regular daily fantasy player.
Further pointing to collusion is the fact that Tolbert rostered NFC quarterbacks Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz in 148 of his entries, while Roper-Tolbert used AFC quarterbacks Watson, Ryan Tannehill and Josh Allen in 143 of hers.
More unique rosters provide more chances to win, and the couple’s lineups point to circumventing rules prohibiting a maximum of 150 uncoordinated entries.
Why collusion is a problem
Concerns over collusion in daily fantasy are common. High-level players use advanced metrics and big bankrolls to submit multiple entries in contests to give themselves an edge over recreational players.
While rules prohibit collusion, it’s difficult to police coordination over multiple accounts.
DraftKings announced after the accusations surfaced that it would conduct an investigation.
"We take the integrity and fairness of our contests very seriously and are looking into this matter," a DraftKings statement from Jan. 6 read.
DraftKings also deleted its congratulatory tweet to Roper-Tolbert that included a rose theme familiar to fans of “The Bachelor.”
Tweets from Roper-Tolbert acknowledging the win remained up then, but are unavailable on Twitter as of Saturday.
Tolbert speculated to ESPN after the initial outcry that the issue only surfaced because Roper-Tolbert is a woman.
“We each put in our separate players in our separate accounts and rooted for own players,” Tolbert said on Jan. 6. “No one has ever said a peep about us when we lost for 17 straight weeks. Then, of course, somehow Jade picked the right lineup, got the million and the spotlight got shown on it. And people, especially since she's a woman, assume that I do it all for her. If I had won, I bet no one would've raised a flag.”
The couple provided a similar statement to TMZ the next day, continuing to lay groundwork that Roper-Tolbert’s status as a woman has something to do with the backlash.
Roper-Tolbert was a contestant on the 19th season of “The Bachelor” and the second season of “Bachelor in Paradise” in 2015. She met Tolbert on the set of “Bachelor in Paradise.” He was also a contestant in the 11th season of “The Bachelorette” in 2015.
With the high stakes involved, a legal battle appears likely if DraftKings and Roper-Tolbert haven’t reached an agreement.
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