US$5 million up for grabs, but no major takers
By staff, the official website of the Kentucky Derby claimed the US$5 million prize for picking the exact order of finish of the 130th running of the race, drew only one winning customer who took home a meager US$25,000 instead — a fraction of the prize money.

The US$5 Million Pay Day, was a free Internet-based contest of skill on the site, initially had 18 starters. Of the 250,000 individuals who registered, up by 45 percent from last year’s 172,000 entries, no one was able to correctly select the entire running line for the race. However, a suburban Cleveland woman, Nan Sako from Ohio, was the lucky winner.

By picking the first five Derby finishers in order, she outscored 21 players who selected the first four finishers and 486 contestants who picked the first three in order. Sako, who made her picks by watching NBC Sport’s racing coverage, reading about the Derby in the local papers and listening to family member’s handicapping advice was more than surprised on the win.

‘I was very skeptical -- I didn't believe it. It couldn't come at a better time in our lives and I am really thankful,’ said Sako.

‘The event accomplished everything we had hoped except crown a grand prizewinner,’ said Karl F. Schmitt Jr., President of the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network, which developed and administered the online contest. While more than 1.4 million, Internet visitors, logged on to and viewed more than 4.2 million pages on the site, this has not translated into a major success story, at least not for the enthusiasts and the bettors.

Schmitt adds: ‘Not everyone can win a big prize like Ms. Sato, but we do offer compelling information that will improve everything from fans’ experience at one of our racetracks or facilities to their handicapping knowledge base.’

Sato, said she plans to use the US$25,000 prize money to help pay for her son’s wedding and perhaps a vacation.

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