A woman named Jade Roper Tolbert took home the $1 million top prize in this past weekend’s DraftKings Millionaire Maker daily fantasy contest, in which contestants assembled lineups from the players in the four NFL wild-card playoff games. Usually, the winners of such contests go unnoticed outside the world of hardcore fantasy sports players, but Tolbert’s status as a former contestant on “The Bachelor” reality-TV show - she appeared on the show’s 19th season along with Season 2 of its “Bachelor in Paradise” spinoff, both airing in 2015 - gave her victory a little more attention than usual.
Using terminology well known to "Bachelor" fans, DraftKings tweeted out its congratulations to Tolbert on Sunday night after she ended up atop the Millionaire Maker standings. This tweet was taken down Monday morning, though The Washington Post had saved an image of it:
DraftKings tweeted: "@jadelizroper will you accept this (rose) as this week's millionaire? Congrats on taking it down"
Tolbert acknowledged her victory after a Twitter user recognized her from “The Bachelor.” She said she went against the advice of her husband - Tanner Tolbert, himself a contestant of “The Bachelorette” Season 11 and “Bachelor in Paradise” Season 2, where the two met - and started Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, who had a massive game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday evening and whose game-sealing 36-yard catch in the final minutes gave Jade Roper Tolbert the daily fantasy sports, or DFS, victory.
But almost immediately after Jade Tolbert's win, accusations of collusion began to fly among DFS players on social media. Observers noted that Jade Tolbert and Tanner Tolbert each submitted the maximum 150 entries for the Millionaire Maker contest and that their entries seemed coordinated so that they generated the maximum number of possible lineups.
For instance, a renowned DFS expert and sports gambler named William Bierman noted that Jade Tolbert's lineups contained almost zero quarterbacks who were started by her husband, with the former starting Deshaun Watson, Ryan Tannehill and Josh Allen in 95.33% of her lineups and the latter starting Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz in 98.67% of his.
The rest of the lineups submitted by the two DFS players mostly overlapped, and despite Jade Tolbert's claim that her husband told her not to start Metcalf, the Seahawks wide receiver was in 88% of the lineups she submitted and 78.67% of her husband's.
Boston-based DraftKings is investigating whether the Tolberts colluded with each other. “We take the integrity and fairness of our contests very seriously and are looking into this matter,” the company said in a statement released Monday morning.
Neither Jade Tolbert nor her husband have commented yet, though a request for comment was sent to her agent Monday morning.
DFS players collude to circumvent limits on the number of entries in a contest and to improve their chances of victory by submitting multiple lineups. DraftKings explicitly forbids such collusion, calling coordination between multiple players "unacceptable behavior" on the "Community Guidelines" section of its website.
Some states that have DFS regulations in place also limit the number of entries one player may submit in each contest (the limit usually is 150 or 3% of the total number of entries by all players for any contest, whichever is less). Some states, such as Massachusetts, also require daily fantasy companies to ban players who attempt to play with more than one account. New York's rules state that "operators must take reasonable steps to prevent authorized players from submitting more than the allowable number of entries per contest."
Daily fantasy sports exploded onto the sports landscape in the middle of the last decade, with advertisements promising large jackpots to average Joes saturating the television airwaves during NFL games.