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Worst Nightmare Comes True For One Of America's Best Brackets


Last night, the UConn Huskies won the NCAA's men's championship over Kentucky. But for one Connecticut fan and resident, the victory is bittersweet. Before the start of the tournament, Corey Johnson, like many others, filled out a bracket. And he did his online hoping to win some money in the Yahoo! Quicken Loans Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge. Those with the top 20 brackets would win $100,000 each.

Corey Johnson's picks were impressive. He correctly chose 11 of the Sweet 16, seven of the Elite Eight. And yes, for the championship he had Connecticut beating Kentucky - or so he thought. Johnson says he clicked on UConn to win, but says the pick didn't save.

To get the full story from the man himself, Corey Johnson is here. Corey, welcome.

COREY JOHNSON: Hi. How are you doing?

CORNISH: Pretty good. How are you doing, though?

JOHNSON: Oh, I'm doing well. Thank you.


JOHNSON: I could be a little better but, you know...


CORNISH: So what were you feeling as you're watching the tournament go on, with each game as UConn is advancing?

JOHNSON: I just kept saying to myself: Wow, these guys are playing lights out. Man, they have a shot. You know, especially when they got to the Sweet 16 and, you know, I looked at my bracket and I'm seeing, you know, all of the picks that I picked, they're all in the right spot. You know what I mean? I got a couple wrong here and there. You know, I'm noticing that my picks are doing well, weller than any others. So it was overwhelming, I'll put it that way.

CORNISH: So at what point you realize though, like, OK, mine is blank?


JOHNSON: I'm looking through everybody else's championship brackets, the people that are ahead of me, the people that are, you know, five or 10 spots behind me. And I'm noticing that they have, you know, UConn and Kentucky at the top of the page and my page is blank. And I'm sitting there like confused, like, well, shouldn't I have UConn up there? I picked them to win, why wouldn't it be up there?

You know, and as I'm going through, I'm realizing I can't change this. There's no way to make sure that's in there. You know what I mean? Like...

CORNISH: And we should be clear with people that once you have made your picks, right, your bracket is locked in. So there really wasn't anything you could do about it.

JOHNSON: It's locked in. There's nothing you can do about it. Once the tournament started you are no longer allowed to touch it.

CORNISH: Now, were you able to get to the bottom of what happened with your bracket? What was the mistake why you ended up leaving that championship slot blank?

JOHNSON: I don't know. I didn't do it at a computer. I did on my phone. Literally, I did the bracket in a half hour sitting down by myself and going over it with myself, and realizing that, you know, this could, you know, be a billion dollar bracket, maybe. Who knows, you know? If I have good luck or not, you know?

CORNISH: Oh, so you're going for the Warren Buffett bracket at first.

JOHNSON: Oh, yeah. I wanted that.

CORNISH: You were going for the big money.


JOHNSON: Yeah, I was going for the big bucks. Go big or go home.

CORNISH: Corey, what was it like the next day at work for you?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I don't work really with a (unintelligible) bunch of people. I go to school so I'm in school right now for HVAC, heating and air-conditioning. So I'm in class with a bunch of guys. And, you know, everybody in class is, you know, busting my chops. And, you know, a bunch of my friends started a petition: Pay Corey Johnson, #paycoreyjohnson.


JOHNSON: And they started it up. And it's on my Facebook page. And, you know, this is just something that is getting a lot of national attention right now. And it's funny and it's cool to begin with. But I could've used that 100,000.


CORNISH: Corey Johnson, thanks so much for talking with us. And best of luck on next year's bracket.

JOHNSON: I appreciate it.


CORNISH: We did reach out to Yahoo! and Quicken Loans to see if they had any comment about Corey's bracket fail, but haven't received a response. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.