The Westgate SuperContest will feature several new elements this year, when the nation’s most prestigious NFL handicapping contest might produce its first $1 million winner.
While the entry fee for the SuperContest will remain $1,500 and the top 50 finishers will be paid, the Westgate is adding a winner-take-all contest titled SuperContest Gold that has a $5,000 entry fee.
“We just wanted to add a high-end element to the SuperContest,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said.
While the SuperContest is limited to two entries per person, the SuperContest Gold will be limited to one entry per person. The format and point spreads will be the same for both contests. Contestants pick five NFL games against the spread each week of the regular season, and each winner is worth one point and each tie is worth a half-point.
There also have been changes made to the SuperContest aggregate bonuses. In the past, there were two $20,000 bonuses: for a winning percentage of 67 percent or higher and for the winner of the mini-contest over the final three weeks of the season. This year, there will be three $15,000 bonuses: for the leader after the first four weeks and first eight weeks and for the mini-contest winner.
“We’re getting rid of the 67 percent bonus because it usually ended up in the winner’s hand and they already did quite well. We’re trying to spread the wealth a little bit,” Kornegay said. “Week 4 and Week 8 will have a different meaning this year. It will add more excitement during the course of the year.”
The Westgate also will award Super Bowl-style rings for the first time this year to the winners of the SuperContest and SuperContest Gold. Kornegay estimates the budget to range from $1,500 to $2,000 for each customized ring, which will be inscribed with the winner’s alias and record. He said there should be one on display at the book by the start of football season.
There has been a record amount of SuperContest entries every year since 2010, when there were 345 entries and a $207,000 grand prize. Local Starbucks barista Damon Graham topped a field of 1,854 entries last year to win more than $900,000. He finished 54-28-3 (65.8 percent) ATS.
Illinois farmer Mark Jorstad won more than $358,000 for second place (53-29-3).
“Top handicappers are always up there on the first couple pages of the leaderboard, but anybody can have a great year and win this,” Kornegay said.
A total of 2,071 entries are needed to produce the SuperContest’s first $1 million winner.
“I think we’ll be very close,” Kornegay said. “We’re trying a couple enhancements here. We’re throwing more money at it, and giving a ring to the winner’s a nice touch.”
The Westgate also is working on making the contests accessible via mobile betting app, but Kornegay said that option might not be available until 2018.
The Westgate (Westgatevegas.com) will start accepting entries for both contests July 1. The early-bird deadline to register is Sept. 4 and includes entry in the mini-contest. The final deadline is Sept. 9.
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Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-266-6080. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.