Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2022

Currently: 55° — Complete forecast

Californian wins $1 million prize in NFL contest at Circa Sports

Circa sportsbook

Wade Vandervort

The Circa sportsbook

Tony Gordon might have been the one posing for photos with an oversized $1 million check in downtown Las Vegas, but his teenage son also appeared to be a big winner Friday night.

Gordon, winner of the Circa Sports Million III, said he has already purchased a new gaming computer and baseball bat for his 13-year-old son.

A stay-at-home dad from California, Gordon earned the $1 million prize by securing the best season-long record in selecting five weekly NFL games against the spread.

Combined with the Circa Survivor contest — where entrants choose one NFL team to win straight up each week without picking the same team twice — $11 million in winnings was announced to a host of handicappers during a ceremony at The D.

Gordon finished with a record of 63-27 to earn a tie with a three-person entrant team headed by a Las Vegas schoolteacher. The contest, which had an entry fee of $1,000, had 4,087 contestants.

Click to enlarge photo

Circa Sports CEO Derek Stevens presents a $1 million check to California resident Tony Gordon. Gordon posted a 63-27 record in selecting NFL games against the points spread to win the Circa Sports Million III contest.

“I feel so blessed,” Gordon said. “The season was a blast. I’m sure I’ll be in this for life now. After tonight, I’m just going to go home and be dad again.”

Gordon, 45, said his secret is simple — don’t become locked in on any one system of picking games.

“I like to be a hybrid handicapper,” Gordon said. “Don’t be biased to any one system or any one way of looking at the games. Be flexible because the NFL is crazy and it’s hard to pick these games.”

A three-person handicapping team headed by Scott Porter, a science teacher at Lucile S. Bruner Elementary School in North Las Vegas, lost a tiebreaker to Gordon but still won $325,000 for second place.

“It was kind of a bummer that we tied, but we all had a lot of fun doing this,” Porter said.

In the Circa Survivor contest, five players were left standing at the end of the 18-week regular season. Each garnered seven-figure checks — either $1.2 million or $1.5 million.

“I have two kids and two grandkids, so they’ll be receiving some of the money,” said Chris Piper, a retired employee from the Mirage who pocketed $1.2 million.

Downtown casino owner and Circa Sports CEO Derek Stevens called the 2021-22 season a “spectacular” one.

Over 4,000 entries were counted for the Circa Survivor contest alone. Other winners announced Friday included a ride share driver from Las Vegas and a school psychologist from Ohio.

Stevens joked — possibly only half-joking — that it might not be a bad idea to sell the idea of a season-long football contest reality show to a company like Netflix.

“I just want to thank all of the contestants and everybody on our team,” Stevens said. “I’ve always thought the energy from football contest is just great. The sweats this season were unbelievable. I appreciate everybody letting me live vicariously through them.”