If it’s free, it’s me.
That’s what at least 150,000 DraftKings patrons essentially said by signing up for the $100 million Golden Ticket Giveaway that launched last week. Just by entering the free survivor pool, customers are eligible to win $1 million in a drawing. And it all starts during NFL Week 1 in September.
And did we mention it’s free?
It’s free to play for everyone. Meaning that anyone can participate, even if sports betting is not legal (or not available yet) in their home state.
What’s the over-under for people signing up for this promotion? A million?
“We are excited about the response, it’s going to be a big number,” said Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings.
“This is a brand-new contest; we did not do it last year. One of the great aspects of this is the logical progression of people who are already on our site then deciding to bet the NFL games. This is real content, people want to play sports and this seems like a real natural.”
How to join the Golden Ticket Giveaway at DraftKings
Simply put, this massive giveaway takes into account the rewards for entering the contest and various promotions throughout the NFL season. So as you watch the Eagles, Jets or Giants play on the gridiron, you can play against other fans across the US in a survivor pool.
Customers just need to sign up for an account or log into DraftKings Sportsbook or the DFS app and reserve your entry in the $1 million NFL Survivor Pool. Once you have opted into the pool, you will automatically have access to the Golden Ticket Giveaway.
Just before Week 1 kicks into gear, DraftKings will post survivor picks on Sept. 8, two days before the first game of the season between the Houston Texans and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, the $1 million pool prize could go to a single winner or be shared with multiple winners. But once you’ve got your entry, you can claim a free reward of between $5 and $25,000. After that, it’s all about the Golden Ticket Giveaway.
What’s so golden about it? One winner is guaranteed to walk away with $1 million. The first drawing takes place on Sept. 13.
As the NFL season continues, more contests will be available and customers will have more free shots at a $1 million top prize.
In total, DraftKings will be giving away up to $100 million in prizes. Now that’s a golden giveaway.
What is a survivor pool?
Survivor pools are one of the more exciting — and compelling — season-long competitions. Take one team to win a game each week, but you don’t get to use them again for the rest of the season.
Submit your weekly pick before 1 p.m. ET Sunday mornings during the regular season for all Sunday and Monday games. Thursday picks are due before that game’s kickoff.
If you “survive,” you can make your picks for the next week. The last one standing at the end of the season wins. If multiple players are still standing, the prize is shared.
The process seems easy early in the season, especially if one can avoid the big major upset that usually marks NFL Week 1.
From there, a player may take some major chalks in the early weeks and advance to the next rounds.
But it gets really hard when the bye weeks kick in. The schedule gets reduced to 12 games and top-flight teams have been used. Eventually, you will need a sub-500, even a weak team, to come up big for you.
Strategy tips to consider
But on which week does one stake the season-long position on a non-playoff team?
Strategy is significant. Some players want to build up wins and wait for competitors to take a stab with early-week longshots. Others take their risk early, preserving top teams for down the stretch.
I came close to winning one of these in recent years. I went with the chalk early, sweated out three one-point wins in the middle weeks, and had a loaded lineup at the end. There was a major risk in Week 15, when I took the New Orleans Saints to beat the Atlanta Falcons on the road. But they did.
That left me with the Philadelphia Eagles as a seven-point favorite against the Minnesota Vikings at home in Week 16. And the Falcons in my pocket for Week 17. But with all that, I still lost, as the Vikings upset the Eagles on a Tuesday game after the teams were snowed out on Sunday. Of course, the Falcons romped in Week 17.
DraftKings survivor pool vs. a pick’em contest
While this pool and Golden Ticket Giveaway will resonate with players, Avello also touts the widening popularity of DraftKings’ Pro Football Pick’em Contest.
The big difference between the two contests (survivor pool and the pick’em) is that the pool is free to play; the pick’em contest has a buy-in. It is also only available in New Jersey for now.
To play the pick’em contest at DraftKings requires a $1,500 buy-in, five weekly games against the spread, and payouts to multiple places. It has a $1 million top prize and total payouts of at least $2 million.
Prepping for NFL betting in New Jersey
Besides fun-to-play pools, bettors in the Garden State see the New York Giants, New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles in divisions that look winnable this season.
Although the Giants and Jets are +8000 to win the Super Bowl and the Eagles +1800, their division battles should be fierce and generate bets, Avello asserted.
“Last year, I was expecting a lot of money to come in on those teams and it did,” Avello indicated. “You look at the divisions. Every year people say it’s going to be the Cowboys’ year to win the NFC East but the Eagles are usually pretty strong (they won the division last season) and the Giants always get on some of these runs, if you watch them year to year.
“There is going to be a lot of interest in the divisions. With the Jets, for example, being +850 to take the AFC East, that is going to generate betting support.”
Avello noted that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. “The big dog is gone,” he said, and so that division has opened up. “Buffalo looks to be the favorite right now, but that division is going to be much more wide open.”
The numbers may startle NFL betting fans. The Buffalo Bills, at +120, are the AFC East favorites. This is the first time in perhaps 15 years that the favorite wasn’t New England.
Dallas is -110 to win the NFC East, while the Eagles are +140 and the Giants are +1000.