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The Reality of Fantasy Sports An inside look at the entrepreneurial all-stars behind a $1 billion business phenomenon.

By Jason Ankeny Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

the reality of fantasy sports

For millions of fantasy gamers, Sept. 7, 2008, is a day that will live in infamy. Less than eight minutes into the New England Patriots' season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Pats' superstar quarterback Tom Brady--the reigning National Football League most valuable player, coming off a record-setting 50 touchdown passes in the 2007 campaign--crumpled to the turf in agony, the victim of a low hit by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard. As the Patriots' medical staff dashed from the sideline, Brady writhed at midfield, clutching his left knee. The diagnosis: torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. Brady's season was over almost before it began.

The moment he went down, all those fantasy football players who selected Brady in their league drafts knew their seasons were in serious trouble.

In the aftermath of Brady's injury, reported that roughly half of fantasy gamers who drafted the quarterback the year before won their respective leagues. In fantasy sports, participants assemble teams of real professional athletes to go head-to-head with other league members based on the statistical performance of those players, and the kind of stratospheric passing numbers posted by Brady can be more than enough to swing the balance of power to the team owner prescient or lucky enough to select him. CNBC speculated that in his absence, the shift in fantasy league winnings from those gamers who had Brady to those who didn't could total as much as $150 million of the estimated $500 million up for grabs.

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