This Byron Jones interception return for a TD won one person $1 million playing DFS.
It already had been a stressful Sunday for “cubsfan333.”
Being the daddy of the birthday girl at a bowling party with 22 first-graders isn’t easy. But that was just the beginning for the 40-year financial adviser from Chicago, who ended Sunday with a bowl of Cheerios, two new tank tops for his wife and a $1.44 million payday.
Cubsfan333 didn’t want to use his real name for this story, for several reasons. Most notably, he didn’t want his daughter to one day read that she might not have been the center of her daddy’s attention throughout her special day.
Cubsfan333 is a high-volume daily fantasy player. He had around $65,000 in play on Week 8 of the NFL season, including 67 entries in a million-dollar tournament on DraftKings. His lineups on Sunday were constructed around running backs LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott, with a bunch of players from the Houston Texans–Seattle Seahawks game. When his skill positions were solidified, he was left with just enough salary-cap space to squeeze in the Dallas Cowboys defense.
The birthday party got rolling at 12:30 p.m. There were countless trips to the bathroom, drinks of water and other tasks required to satisfy the needs of candy-fueled 7-year-olds. One of the dads was trying to keep track of the NFL scores on his phone, but there certainly wasn’t much time for fantasy football.
The party concluded in the middle of the afternoon. On the ride home, cubsfan333 listened to Sirius radio, trying to get caught up on the scores and statistics. He was frazzled and still facing an after-party at his house.
“I [was] driving back from the party, and a little stressed out,” cubsfan333 told ESPN on Monday. “The party was pretty intense. A lot of kids, a lot of movement, a lot of candy.”
It was halftime of the Texans-Seahawks game when he got home and ran down to the basement to check scores. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was having a big game; so was Houston’s Deshaun Watson. Texans receiver Will Fuller and Seahawks receiver Paul Richardson already had two touchdowns each. They were all on his rosters. Cubsfan333 was very much in the mix in the Millionaire Maker. At the same time, his wife was very much dealing with a mess.
Upstairs, the birthday girl, her 3-year-old sister and two friends were opening 21 presents. Crumpled wrapping paper and doll accessories were everywhere. The little sister was crying and screaming. Cubsfan333 assessed the situation: It was straight chaos.
With 5:37 left in the fourth quarter, cubsfan333’s tight end — Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks — caught his first touchdown. Things were getting very interesting.
He couldn’t possibly ditch his wife at this moment, could he?
With a potential million dollars on the line, cubsfan333 said, “Honey, I’m sorry, but we have a legitimate chance of winning the million. I’ve got to have the neighbor over, and we’re going to go down in the basement and watch this.”
The trusty neighbor, who was always willing to sweat out games with cubsfan33, rushed over, and a roller-coaster final 30 minutes ensued.
Hope dwindled after Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught a 72-yard touchdown pass that plummeted cubsfan333 down the standings. But minutes later Graham caught his second touchdown pass with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Cubsfan333 was back in second place in the million-dollar tournament.
Everything would come down to the final minutes of the Dallas-Washington game. The Cowboys were leading 26-19 and punted the ball to Washington with less than a minute to play. Cubsfan333 needed a big play from Dallas’ defense to have a chance.
His phone and iPad were dying, but he managed to send a text message to a buddy: “We are in second and third. Cowboys d needs to get back on the field. [Pick-six] for a million.”
The party had ended upstairs, but it was a party all over again in the basement, as cubsfan333 had won the million-dollar tournament. He instantly sprinted up the stairs to celebrate with his wife, when the neighbor yelled, “Oh my god. Flag on the play.”
“I raced back downstairs,” cubsfan333 said, “and my neighbor says, ‘I’m just [messing] with you.'”
Cubsfan333 remembers looking at the live game-tracker before Jones’ interception and noting that he was in position to win approximately $360,000. After the play, he jumped over contestant “kmaxw001” and was up $1.44 million. Kmaxw001 went from a million-dollar winner to settling for $100,000 on Jones’ pick-six.
“I cannot even begin to fathom what that guy is feeling right now,” said cubsfan333. “It was epic for me, but that poor guy. I’ve been there.”
He also won second place in the Millionaire Maker, with a lineup identical to his first-place roster except for Watson instead of Wilson at quarterback. He also won 14th and cashed in every contest he entered on Sunday.
The family celebrated with a typical dinner. The girls had Amy’s mac ‘n’ cheese. His wife had a frozen bagel with cream cheese, and he enjoyed a bowl of Cheerios.
Later in the evening, cubsfan333 was lying in bed with his wife, talking about what to do with their windfall: “My wife says to me, ‘You know, I’ve been wanting to get two tank tops from Target, and I’m going to do it.'”
He owed her.