Did Jade Roper Tolbert cheat?
I don’t know for sure. Since a $1 million prize is hanging in the balance, I’ll leave it up to the legal team at DraftKings to make the official decision. But whether or not Roper Tolbert fairly “won” DraftKings’ “Millionaire Maker” contest it stirred up many emotions, and brought to the forefront some stark realities about women who play DFS, bet on sports or play a “man’s game.”
Women’s wins are questioned.
“Oh, you won fantasy? Was it an all-ladies league?”
“You picked the Vikings on the moneyline against the Saints? Do you have a crush on Kirk Cousins?”
When men claim fantasy victory it’s followed by congratulations and praise. Maybe some good-natured rib, like “it’s about time.” If they have picked an underdog and cashed a winning ticket, their posts about it get props, not “did your wife tell you to pick that game?”
ICYMI: Jade, drama, and DraftKings
On Jan. 5, Roper Tolbert, a former contestant on “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise” won DraftKings “Millionaire Maker” contest. She won the $1 million prize by creating fantasy lineups from the NFL’s four Wild Card weekend games.
After winning she tweeted:
Jade met husband Tanner Tolbert on “Bachelor in Paradise” and the pair were married in 2016. The bloom quickly came off the rose when her victory was questioned to possibly be in violation of DraftKings’ terms of service and an array of state laws that deal with DFS contests. Tolbert and her husband each entered 150 entries at $20 each, the maximum amount of entries allowed in the contest.
DraftKings deleted a congratulatory tweet it sent Roper Tolbert after her win and released a statement that it is investigating the matter.
The runner-up behind Tolbert isn’t happy either and has hired representation ahead of the legal probe. Either way, Tolbert should be preparing for a legal battle if it’s concluded she didn’t play fairly.
A woman’s win is immediately questioned
“Did Jade cheat?” isn’t even being asked. “Jade cheated,” is the consensus.
Almost immediately after announcing Roper Tolbert as the winner, the questions, accusations and hate rolled in…almost exclusively from men. Well, mostly men play DFS… What women would knowingly throw herself into shark-infested waters? When you are a woman who talks about sports be prepared to have your knowledge interrogated, your looks judged, and the basis for your interest questioned.
Then came the sleuthing (a.k.a. scrolling through her timeline) to find evidence. The internet detectives did the work for DraftKings faster than their own team. Hope they got a vig.
How much research do men do before following a so-called tout or purchasing their service? Do you know the actual record of the sports betting show host you spend hours a week listening to? How about the fantasy guru whose articles you consult each week? Do you go back and track all of their picks/suggestions?
This is one of the seemingly few cases where the public is hating the player instead of the game. Roper Tolbert, a reality show celebrity circa 2015, is getting ripped more than DraftKings and its policies. Her Instagram posts, some of which are obviously ads and not even written by her, are being used as ammo.
While Roper Tolbert gets the brunt of the hate, some fairly obvious things hardly are getting mentioned. DraftKings and its policies regarding DFS are obviously at the top of the list. But how have internet detectives, so quick to scream collusion and discredit Roper Tolbert, missed a couple of other interesting tidbits about this story.
Would anyone have questioned if a man won? If so, would the masses cry foul as quickly as they did when a woman won?
Roper Tolbert, a former contestant on “The Bachelor” and “Bachelor in Paradise” won the contest one day before season 24 of “The Bachelor” premiered.
DraftKings launched in New Hampshire on Dec. 30. On Dec. 23, DraftKings and sports betting technology provider SBTech went public. DraftKings is receiving a lot of social media impressions because of who won this contest. You can use quotation marks around “won” and “Jade” in terms of who may or may not have filled out the lineups. But don’t forget another symbol that comes with all that social media: $.
More women are playing fantasy and betting on sports
Whether or not Roper Tolbert gets the prize is ultimately up to DraftKings. You’re entitled to your opinion on her. However, it should not apply to all other female players. The women who register for a fantasy league (or multiple leagues), play DFS, and place bets aren’t intruders. They want to play for the same reasons you do – the thrill of competition, the chance to win money, bragging rights, and the strategy involved.
Women in sports media, women who play DFS in small minority
How did I get so jaded? It’s not just for the sake of a pun. It’s taken about 20 years of men doubting and demeaning my sports knowledge. Maybe even longer since I started collecting baseball cards in the fifth grade and was accused of taking up the hobby to get boys to like me. (Not true, I was getting bored with Barbies and was already obsessed with Philadelphia sports teams).
When I took a freelance sports reporter job at a local paper, I got assigned mostly women’s high school sports. I never questioned the editor since I was simply grateful for the opportunity to get experience.
“Do you even understand football,” one of the other reporters asked when I mentioned I would be available to cover Friday night football. He began to explain what offsides was until I corrected him and told him that he was describing a holding penalty.
“Just trying to test you,” he said.
Look at any postgame locker room interview. It’s a swarm of men with cameras and recorders. Watch a coach’s Monday press conference. It’s a room filled with men. But there are one or two women there. And some sideline reporters are women. It’s such a small sample. It’s not a minority. It’s minuscule. That’s not a Jade Roper Tolbert problem.
“Sports is the great equalizer” is an often-used quote. It’s time that women’s (legit) victories are celebrated instead of questioned. I doubt I will ever see a time women are equal to men in sports media, but I would hope I could at least hear more support for a level above minuscule. You have the power to do it at your fingertips.