Vote Leave offers £50m prize in Euro 2016 results contest
Published 27/05/2016 | 11:41
Pro-Brexit campaigners have offered a £50 million prize to any voter who can correctly predict every result of the European football championships - in a novel bid to engage people with the debate.
Vote Leave hopes to use the contest to maximise the spread of its message by taking contact details and voting intentions from hundreds of thousands of armchair punters.
It was dismissed as a "con" by rivals pushing for a Remain vote after experts calculated the chances of scooping the jackpot were somewhere in the hundreds of trillions to one.
Vote Leave - which has massively outstripped its opponents in terms of raking in private funds for the campaign - declined to say how much it had paid Lloyd's of London to insure against someone defying the near-impossible odds.
Two donors have given cash specifically to fund the contest - which also includes a guaranteed £50,000 prize fund to be shared between those who go longest without one of their projections proving wrong.
Entrants - who have until 8pm on June 9 to sign up to make predictions via a website - must supply their telephone number, email address and home address to qualify for the prize.
They must also rate themselves on a scale of one to five as to whether they are more likely to back maintaining membership or divorce from Brussels.
The competition, open to all registered voters over the age of 18, is based on a similar competition run by US billionaire investor Warren Buffett involving the "March Madness" basketball in the US.
Campaign director Dominic Cummings said: "We want as many people as possible to know that we are sending life-changing sums to the EU every single day so we're giving them a chance to win it.
"Too many people, particularly younger voters, don't engage in politics and do not plan to vote in the referendum.
"We'll be able to speak to them about the issues, give them some facts, and answer their questions."
To qualify for the £50 million, someone would have to correctly predict in advance the outcome of each group game, the line-up at the knockout stage and each subsequent game up to the final in Paris on July 10.
Will Straw, executive director of Britain Stronger In Europe, said it was "a con" offering "the same length of odds as Vote Leave coming up with a coherent vision for what life would look like outside the EU.
"Given the £50m figure is a work of fiction, this is a political Ponzi scheme with Dominic Cummings acting as Vote Leave's Bernie Madoff," he said - in a reference to the jailed US financier.
"Once again Vote Leave put wild guesswork at the heart of their campaign and it is the British people who they are asking to take the risk."
Bookmaker Ladbrokes said correctly predicting just the group stages would be an eight billion to one shot, it said.
Spokesman Alex Donohue said: "Trying to work out the odds of correctly predicting the outcome of every Euros game sent our system into meltdown.
"The final number is in the billions, so anyone who thinks they have cracked it should probably just stick a quid on themselves instead."
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission, which regulates the referendum campaign, said: "The competition announced by Vote Leave is referendum campaigning and money spent on it must be reported in its spending return after the referendum.
"Vote Leave indicate that the £50 million prize would be paid by an insurance company and not by them. The referendum period ends on June 23 and campaigners only need to account for spending up to that date."