The inside story of the rise, fall, and rise of FanDuel and DraftKings—two companies that began as obscure start-ups and, seemingly overnight, became billion dollar companies, and just as quickly found themselves the target of the FBI and Department of Justice and the center of a national scandal.
Veteran sportswriter Albert Chen draws on candid, unprecedented interviews with every key player in tech, sports, gambling, and the fantasy leagues to create a breakneck narrative around a group of entrepreneurs, players, and gamblers. Billion Dollar Fantasy recounts the origins of modern gambling and fantasy sports in America, and follows the unlikely rise of the fantasy sports world through the lens of the two startups at the center of the story.
For fans of The Big Short, The Facebook Effect, or Bringing Down the House, this book tells the tale of a culture of risk, hubris, greed, redemption, and a group of larger-than-life characters trying to make sense of the complex new world they've created.
About the Author
“In this entertaining debut, Sports Illustrated editor Chen examines a decade of online fantasy sports . . . Fans of financial thrillers such as Barbarians at the Gate will be excited by this insider account of the dizzying rise of fantasy sports websites.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A rollicking, riveting account of an improbable startup war that invaded all of our living rooms and helped pave the way for sports gambling across America. Magic/Bird, Red Sox/Yankees, Federer/Nadal . . . FanDuel/DraftKings: The same rivalry dynamics that fuel such passion and tribalism in sports come alive in this addictive account that’s about so much more than the business of sports. For anyone who's ever had a billion dollar fantasy, it's both an inspirational story —- and a cautionary tale.”
—L. Jon Wertheim, 60 Minutes correspondent and coauthor of New York Times bestseller Scorecasting
“When FanDuel and DraftKings exploded onto the scene, I thought "I'm not sure one of these businesses can work. How possibly can two?" In Billion Dollar Fantasy, Albert Chen answers all the questions about the strange intersection of sports, gambling, startups and fast money that spawned these improbable companies. A great read.”
—Peter King, NBC Sports
“Highly engrossing . . . A wild ride . . . A conventional business story, this is not. In Billion Dollar Fantasy, Albert Chen tells the story of how the improbable multi-billion-dollar daily fantasy sports industry was born with unforgettable set pieces, everywhere from Edinburgh to Vegas to, hell, even Harry Potter World. Readers are taken inside the psyches of the major players as the top companies took off, nearly crashed after the government and public turned against them and gained new life, thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision that legalized sports betting in America. This book is like fantasy sports: once you start, you won’t stop.”
—Sean Gregory, senior correspondent, Time
“Billion Dollar Fantasy is The Social Network, only more scandalous. Albert Chen has written an exhilarating, cinematic account of the rapid rise and fall and rise again of a pair of odds-defying unicorns, and the bootstrapping impresarios who created them. This book deserves to be devoured by gamblers and entrepreneurs, in poker rooms and boardrooms alike.”
—Ben Reiter, New York Times-bestselling author of Astroball and senior writer, Sports Illustrated