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Mysterious Ways
By Adam Hunter

Beating the Odds

Warren Buffet is one of the richest men in the world—and he didn’t get there by making bad bets.

So when his company, Berkshire Hathaway, announced they would award $1 billion to the person who correctly predicts the outcome of every NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament game, you can be reasonably sure they knew they’d never have to pay out.

The chances of filling out a perfect bracket? 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 to one.

As an article on Slate pointed out, that means “If all 317 million people in the U.S. filled out a bracket at random, you could run the contest for 290 million years and there’d still be a 99 percent chance that no one had ever won.”

Those odds are why we don’t encourage gambling. I haven’t heard a Mysterious Ways story yet where God made somebody rich–although sometimes winning a contest does serve a higher purpose, as one reader's story showed us.

I’ll be watching this year’s tournament for its entertainment value, not how much value it can add to my bank account.

Still, knowing what we know about the likeliness of unlikely things, maybe Warren Buffet shouldn’t feel so secure.

Has entering a contest given you a prize that helped you in an unexpected way? Share your story with us

Adam Hunter is a senior editor for Guideposts magazine and Managing Editor for Mysterious Ways. He’s edited Mysterious Ways since October 2006, and is continually amazed by the astounding stories shared by readers. Follow him on Twitter: @MMysteriousWays