A Twin Cities man turned a single $25 wager into $1 million playing online fantasy football this past weekend, and he’s cashing it all in while he still can.
Gene Schaum, who runs a SuperAmerica store in Blaine, made his prescient bets on FanDuel, one of two online giants in an industry that is under fire for insider trading allegations and even its very existence as a legal enterprise.
Schaum, 49, of Brooklyn Park, plopped down the modest sum and chose his lineup of NFL players, whose performances in passing, rushing, catching and defending earned him points.
Schaum, a husband and father who was back at work this week, said he’s won “a hundred bucks here and there” over the past couple of years playing $15 or $20 a week.
But when this past pro football weekend was over and all the yards, points and receptions were tallied, Schaum peeked at his FanDuel balance and saw that it had gone from $7.05 to $1,000,007.05.
Schaum said he’s taking the full $1 million in a single bank transfer, aware of the turmoil swirling around online fantasy football.
“My nephew is an investment banker, so he is helping me” decide what to do with the windfall, he said.
FanDuel spokeswoman Emily Bass said Schaum finished with 208.5 points, nudging out his closest competitor for the top weekly payout by a single point. Second place was good for a still robust $350,000, Bass said.
His savvy selections: Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford; running backs Matt Forte of Chicago and Chris Ivory of the New York Jets; wide receivers Keenan Allen of San Diego, John Brown of Arizona and DeAndre Hopkins of Houston; tight end Travis Kelce of Kansas City; kicker Matt Prater of Detroit, and the Miami defense.
Schaum said he’s particularly grateful for how well Miami’s defense did holding the Tennessee Titans to 299 total yards and 10 points. He also piled up the points with Stafford, who passed for 405 yards and four touchdowns in the Lions’ overtime victory over the Bears.
“I hit it with that quarterback and that defense, and hardly anyone picked them,” said Schaum, who takes in the action every NFL weekend watching the six televisions in his basement.
For the coming weekend, Schaum said he is leaning toward sticking with the Miami defense but confessed, “I haven’t really looked at anything yet this week. I usually wait until Saturday or Sunday.”
The online fantasy football industry, led by FanDuel and DraftKings, has exploded in popularity this NFL season but is also feeling the heat on several legal and regulatory fronts.
An investigation is underway into whether a DraftKings employee used valuable inside information to win a $350,000 second-place prize on the FanDuel site.
Nevada gambling regulators have ordered the sites to get out of the state or get a gambling license, and federal lawmakers are calling for a congressional hearing into the industry. Also, leaders in several states have said they’re looking at the contests’ legality.
“It’s the wild, wild West,” said Matt Wilson, an associate professor of sports business at Stetson University in Florida, in an interview last week with the Star Tribune. “And there’s no regulation for something in which there’s estimated to be a billion dollars paid out this year.”