The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is famous for taking a bite out of worker productivity during “March Madness.” The copyrighted alliteration makes even the hoops-averse kick in $10 at the office just to see what happens and the games, especially at the start, come in marathon waves–devouring time and attention. Did we mention the first two days are Thursday and Friday? Those are workdays. Office pools may build camaraderie and enrich the lucky, but employers can’t be happy. You’d think it would especially piss off guys like Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway companies employ about a quarter million people. But Buffett takes the tourney in stride, maybe because he can always find the angle. This year Buffett figures if he’s going to lose productivity, he may as well gain something, too. That’s called a hedge, of course, and leave it to the Sage of Omaha to hedge a popular basketball tournament against worker productivity. What can the man gain while he’s losing? Publicity.
Since practically everybody’s doing a bracket, Buffett (and fellow billionaire Dan Gilbert) want everybody to do their bracket. So they’re backing a Quicken Loans/Berkshire Hathway PR blitz that will pay $1 billion to anyone who has a perfect bracket come tourney’s end. They won’t have to pay: the odds of doing it are approximately 1 in 9.2 quintillion. But as the New York Lotto likes to say: hey, you never know.