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Kansas City man correctly predicts winner of $1.5 million Esurance contest

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Kyle Geary  — The Hale Center For Journalism

A Kansas City man correctly predicted the winner of Esurance’s $1.5 million Super Bowl contest on the Kansas City–based app Knoda.

According to Kyle Rogers, CEO and cofounder of Knoda, the user “Johnny Optimist” predicted the result roughly 36 hours prior to the official announcement of the winner. Rogers said that he found out about the result after the user reached out to him about writing a blog post about his prediction. The user’s real name is Mark Hellevang, according to the Kansas City Star.

“He was on Twitter and paid attention to the Esurance account and saw who they followed that morning,“ Rogers said. “Of the 10 new followers, five of them were verified accounts, so he assumed those were out, and, of the other ones, most of the new people had tweeted that hashtag a few hundred or thousand times. He assumed that they weren’t the winners…. The only individual who tweeted one time was this John Intrater guy.”

Rogers said Hellevang figured that the company would pick the individual who only posted once, as a public relations move. Hellevang also saw Intrator had later tweeted out that he was contacted by the company running the contest, but the post was deleted almost immediately. Rogers said Hellevang told him that at this point he knew Intrator had won, but he did not want to jeopardize the situation by tweeting about it. He decided to use Knoda instead.

Rogers said many users disagreed with the prediction initially due to the likelihood of choosing a winner out of millions of participants.  He said this reminded him of the reason that he and his cofounder built the company.

 “This is exactly why we built Knoda,” Rogers said. “We want people to be able to go back and say ‘I told you so’ when they do something like this.”

Rogers also said that they are continuing to build more features to Knoda. They have recently added verified statuses to certain users, showing a check mark next to their usernames. Most recently they added web support so users can now make predictions through a web browser.

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