04/07/2015 03:44 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2015

The 12-Year-Old Who Won ESPN's March Madness Challenge Doesn't Even Watch Basketball

A 12-year-old boy tied for first place in ESPN's March Madness Tournament Challenge after entering the contest with his father's email.

"I think it was mostly luck," Sam Holtz told WGNTV. "I don't even watch the season at all."

The sixth-grader, from Lake Zurich, Illinois, entered 10 brackets in total and beat out about 11.5 million entrants. The contest limits entrants to U.S. citizens over 18 years of age, so Sam used his father's email address to enter, WLS reports.

"I didn't even think I'd get in the top 100,000 when I first made a bracket. I just make 'em for fun. I didn't think I'd make it this far, so it's incredible," Sam told the station.

After Duke's 68-63 win Monday -- a game he watched with his baseball team -- Sam ended up on top of the leaderboard, tied with one other person.

Kevin Ota, an ESPN spokesman, insists that composing a winning bracket requires skill as well as luck. At the same time, "the basketball experts who have the most expertise and experience don’t always win either," he told The Huffington Post. "That’s the fun of it,” he added.

ESPN enters the top 1 percent of brackets into a grand prize lottery and awards the winner a $20,000 gift card from Best Buy, as well as a trip to the 2015 Maui Invitational. If Sam wins the lottery, his father will have to collect the prize.

What would Sam do with the winnings? He'll buy an Xbox, he told WLS.

UPDATE: April 10 — Sam is ineligible to be entered into the drawing because he’s under 18. "The great thing is that this kid beat all these experts out there," Ota told the Daily Herald. "He beat all of our commentators, all these celebrities, all the college experts. That's what makes this so awesome. The prize really is secondary."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled ESPN spokesman Kevin Ota's name.



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