SPORTS

Utah Men Win ESPN Men’s, Women’s NCAA Bracket Challenges

Apr 6, 2021, 6:43 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2023, 11:58 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah men have won the ESPN bracket challenges for the 2021 men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments. In a coincidence just as unlikely as picking a perfect bracket, both happened to be in the dental field, as well.

Of all the dentists in Utah, or the country, Chris Jacobsen can honestly say he’s now number one.

“Yeah, I did it. Shocking, really,” Jacobsen said with a laugh.

Jacobsen, who works at SoJo Dental Lehi in Lehi, was number one in picking college basketball winners after he selected Baylor to win the men’s championship Monday night.

“I watched some of it. I was a little nervous to watch the whole thing. I literally went and ran three miles to avoid watching it,” said Jacobsen.

When Baylor beat Gonzaga, it put Jacobsen alone at the top of ESPN’s bracket challenge. That was out of 14.7-million entries.

“I was joking with my wife last night, I’ve had more text messages tonight than I had on the past two years from people I haven’t talked to since high school,” he said.

KSL-TV did a story with Jacobsen when he was tied for first heading into the Final Four.

He thought his run was over until Gonzaga hit that now famous last second game-winning shot against UCLA.

“Gosh, I’ve never felt like this. I kid you not, I went numb,” said Jacobsen with a big laugh. “I was like, why do I care this much? I was re-evaluating my life like why do I care so much?”

Jacobsen said he was still getting a lot of attention Tuesday afternoon.

Cougar Board, which is the BYU sports message board, gave him a free lifetime subscription.

A TV station where his mother lives in Illinois did an interview with him. He was even on the radio, talking about his picks.

“They were almost totally random,” he said. “I haven’t watched that much basketball this year.”

Jacobsen wasn’t the only Utahn with bracket bragging rights this year. Andy Johnson, who lives in Monroe, won the EPSN Women’s bracket challenge.

“The funny thing is, I totally forgot about it because of the men’s. I was totally focused on that,” said Johnson.

When Stanford beat Arizona in the Championship Sunday night, Johnson remembered picking Stanford and wondered where he finished.

“After Stanford wins, I might as well check my bracket and see how it is,” he said. “I look at it and I’m like, number one?”

Johnson, like Jacobsen, finished in first place, all by himself.

And get this: Johnson is a dentist technician, meaning both brackets were won by Utah men in the dental field.

“Yup, that’s weird, but connections, I guess,” said Johnson with a laugh. “I’m not sure if it means we’re smart or lucky.”

Winning the brackets doesn’t automatically mean Johnson and Jacobsen win the grand prize.

ESPN said the top 1% of finishers will be entered into a drawing for a trip to Hawaii and Amazon gift cards, which means the two Utah men may only end up with bragging rights.

“It sort of feels unfair, right?” said Jacobsen. “So, yeah, you might win nothing but a pat on the back and a nice text from your mom.”

Jacobsen’s brother-in-law even started a GoFundMe for him as a joke. It has already raised more than $700 from fans.

“I thought he was joking, but he’s taking it serious,” said Jacobsen.

Bragging rights won’t pay for their dental schooling, they said, but it was still nice to be number one out of millions.

“Yeah, I have a lot of bills. I don’t go home and swim in my money,” said Jacobsen.

It also means they won’t be quitting their jobs to gamble on college basketball in the future.

“In my family group, I lost in the guy’s bracket, so I don’t get the bragging right for that,” said Johnson.

“I think I’ll stick with dentistry,” said Jacobsen. “I don’t think I’ll ever get this lucky again.”

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Utah Men Win ESPN Men’s, Women’s NCAA Bracket Challenges