Editor’s note: “Bringing It Home” runs weekends in The Aspen Times and focuses on state, national or international issues that have ties to or impacts on the Roaring Fork Valley.
Around the world, $12 billion will be spent betting on March Madness outcomes, according to Forbes, exceeding even Super Bowl gambling.
In Aspen, some fans are trying their luck at the Billion Dollar Challenge, an offer made by Warren Buffett to anyone who can fill out a perfect bracket. Others are taking a more traditional approach, filling out a bracket with friends or at a local bar.
Bars running brackets in Aspen include Cantina and Brunelleschi’s. People can watch games from anywhere, but they seem to stop in more often at the place where they make wagers, said Doug Campbell, general manager of Cantina.
“It’s worth doing,” Campbell said. “We love being a part of the community, being a neighborhood place, so that’s part of it, as well.”
Seventeen people turned in $20 and a paper bracket at Cantina, fewer than last year. Campbell said the Super Bowl betting followed the same trend, not only at Cantina but at other establishments, maybe because it’s becoming easier to fill out brackets online.
Jeffrey Knapp, of Aspen, said he filled out a bracket online with 39 friends from Michigan, his home state. With each person turning in $20 and the winner earning 75 percent, the payout will be big.
Knapp chose the University of Virginia as the overall champion because his competitors all were choosing Michigan State.
“I was just trying to think outside the box,” Knapp said.
Knapp said he doesn’t follow college basketball religiously and doesn’t favor any team in particular.
“I’m just a sports fan,” he said. “Being from Michigan, I’m happy that Ohio State did lose, even though it did break my bracket.”
Zane’s, a popular sports bar, especially for Michigan and Michigan State fans, will be broadcasting all of the games but isn’t doing any specials or brackets, said bartender Jerod Day.
Brunelleschi’s is offering brackets, but as of Thursday, it hadn’t started them yet.
“We’re omitting the first round,” said owner Gil Vanderaa.