DraftKings Strips Former ‘Bachelor’ Contestant of $1 Million Winning Prize Amid Cheating Allegations
Rich Fury/Getty Images for New York Magazine. Pictured: Jade Roper and Tanner Tolbert
Almost three weeks after the biggest daily fantasy contest controversy yet, DraftKings ruled Saturday that two former “Bachelor” contestants cheated to win the $1 million prize.
“DraftKings has decided to update the standings for several contests,” the statement said. “All customers affected by the updated standings will be notified directly. It is our general policy not to comment further on such matters.”
A glance at the standings from the $1 million daily fantasy contest for the NFL Wild Card weekend now omits the winning score of Jade Roper Tolbert, the Bachelor contestant who won that week. An unidentified DraftKings player under the name spclk36 is now listed as the $1 million winner.
It’s the first time DraftKings has ever taken away a $1 million daily fantasy prize. The company withheld paying out users in the contest while it conducted the investigation.
Alan Milstein, a prominent New Jersey attorney who represented spclk36, told The Action Network, “We appreciate the way DraftKings looked into the contest, according to their rules, and my client is thrilled that he has been informed that he is the winner.”
Hours after Roper won, Twitter users scraped all the lineups submitted by Roper and her husband Tanner Tolbert — who she met on “Bachelor in Paradise” — and found that they had very little crossover in key players used, perhaps a sign, it was alleged, that the two had colluded.
DraftKings’ rules state that “team-building complementary lineups which serve to work together and executing a strategy that may create any unfair advantage” is unacceptable.
An example DraftKings’ gives:
“You and a group of friends collaborate in NFL contests to each draft different QBs and WRs to guarantee you aren’t competing as directly with each other.”
“We each put in our separate players, in our separate accounts and rooted for own players,” Tanner Tolbert insisted to ESPN, in a statement shortly after the win.
Tolbert did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
William Bierman, a 30-year-old professional daily fantasy player, was among the critics who analyzed the lineups Roper and Tolbert soon after Roper won the contest that spanned the four NFL games on Wild Card weekend.
Bierman went to RotoGrinders, which allows anyone to search the entries of various players. He said he started with Tanner Tolbert’s entries then looked at his wife’s.
“I saw it immediately,” Bierman told The Action Network. “One of them took Saturday’s quarterbacks, the other took Sunday’s quarterbacks. They both faded the most popular wide receiver Michael Thomas and both didn’t use [Tom] Brady. And, even though this is their first win, they’ve done this before, where one takes the maximum entries on one quarterback and the other takes the maximum entries on another.”
By both entering the maximum amount of entries allowed per person (150 each) and covering a wider range of possibilities by equally splitting up players, Roper and Tolbert gave themselves a better chance to win, critics claim.
DraftKings did not discuss its process for the investigation, or if it is asking for money back from other people it might have found to colluded. The statement suggests that it stripped others of prizes.
DraftKings is under further scrutiny now because of its recent intention to go public. How the investigation was conducted — and whether the company reached a separate settlement with Roper — will undoubtedly come to light via filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission .