NEW YORK — A business analyst from Virginia beat out 8.15 million other entries to win ESPN’s annual prediction contest for the NCAA basketball championship — but has gained more attention for the handle he created than his powers of prognostication.
Craig Gilmore, inspired by several pints of beer and using the name Lannay Kekua, won the contest, accurately picking Louisville to defeat Michigan in Monday night’s college basketball championship game before the 64-team tournament began.
Lannay Kekua was the name an apparent hoaxster created to fool Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, leading the football player to think he had an online and telephonic relationship with a woman who in reality never existed. Reports of her death during the season became a touching story until it unraveled as an embarrassing hoax.
Gilmore said he chose the name in order to tease two of his buddies who are Notre Dame graduates.
“People were sending me messages on my ESPN profile saying, ’Dude, we’re just rooting for you because it would be great if Lannay Kekua’s entry wins the ESPN bracket,’” Gilmore said.
ESPN advertises the winner will “have a chance” to win the grand prize of a $10,000 gift card for electronics retailer Best Buy, and Gilmore received an email saying he would be entered in a drawing.
“You’re telling me I beat out over 8 million other people and I’m not guaranteed the prize?” Gilmore said.
If he does win the prize, he has already told his wife he plans to buy an 80-inch 3D television.