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Contest Corner: Interviews with SuperContest 1st Half leaders

Dave Tuley  
VSiN.com senior reporter

November 8, 2018 04:08 PM

LAS VEGAS – As we’ve passed the halfway point of the SuperContest at the Westgate, everyone’s wondering about Personal Gourmet and @Pigskin_Junkies, the two entrants who split the $15,000 “1st Half Bonus” for being co-leaders after Week 8 with records of 32-8 (80%).

After playing some phone-tag, I was able to talk to both this week as they agreed to interviews with the understanding that they were going to keep some personal information private and also not reveal anything to compromise their chances moving forward as they continue to compete for the $1.4 million first-place prize in the contest where SuperContestants paid a $1,500 entry fee and make five picks a week against the spread using the Westgate’s contest lines. (Note: Personal Gourmet went 4-1 in the subsequent Week 9 to stay at 80% at 36-9 and take over sole possession of first place while @Pigskin_Junkies went 3-2 and is alone in second place at 35-10 and 1.5 points ahead of third-place That Other Team; players earn 1 point per win and half a point per push).

Personal Gourmet is a 44-year-old from Irvine, Calif., who prefers to just go by his alias for now, which is the company he works for, personalgourmetfoods.com, a fine foods concierge service based in the southwest. This is his first year playing the SuperContest. He said he’s been coming to Las Vegas every August for years to bet college and pro football futures.

“I thought about entering before, but with the prize pool getting bigger every year, I thought I might as well take a shot at it this year,” he said, adding that he’s played other handicapping contests and follows the NFL closely to do his future-book wagers. “The first couple of weeks it’s fun, now it’s a job.”

After the Sunday games of Week 8, Personal Gourmet was already in the clubhouse at 32-8 and guaranteed at least $7,500 of the $15,000 bonus and could only be caught by @Pigskin_Junkies, who was 31-8 but had the Patriots -13.5 against the Bills on Monday night, Oct. 29. Personal Gourmet said he made some small hedge bets on the Patriots -6 at halftime (when they led just 9-3, so he basically had -12.5 for the game as a hedge and 1-point middle; he also was able to grab a bigger middle with Patriots -8.5 when the Bills cut the lead to 9-6 in the third quarter), but he was mostly cheering to win the $15,000 and have the overall lead.

“With New England settling for a lot of field goals, it was looking pretty good,” he said. “When the guy [Buffalo TE Jason Croom] caught the TD, I was about to pop the bubbly but it was overturned.”

That was with just over six minutes left in the game and the Bills trailing just 18-6. On the very next play (after a false-start penalty), Bills QB Derek Anderson was picked off by Devin McCourty, who returned it 84 yards to give the Patriots the spread-covering 25-6 victory.

That was to the delight of @Pigskin_Junkies, the SuperContest alias of Scott Panza, of Stamford, Conn.

“I met Devin McCourty last year, so it was cool that he had the pick-6 to get us the 1st Half Bonus,” Panza said.

The @Pigskin_Junkies entry is actually in the name of Jared Larson, 30, of Bay Hill, Fla. He does the Pigskin Junkies podcast with his brother, Micah, and was the one who went to Vegas to sign up for the SuperContest. While registering, he realized that Panza didn’t give him an alias to use, so Larson decided to use the podcast Twitter name for his friend. Panza said they met through a mutual friend who went to Auburn with Larson and they realized they had common interests in golf and gambling.

The Pigskin Junkies podcast used to focus mostly on college football, but with the followers finding the show through the Twitter handle being among the SuperContest leaders, there is now more NFL talk with Panza. As Larson joked, “Hey, Junkies, this is how you earn a spot on the podcast.”

As for their “day jobs,” Panza said for now just say that they work in finance.

There was also a $15,000 “First Quarter Bonus” for the SuperContest after Week 4. That was the entry with the alias Shaboom at 17-3 (85%). The Westgate gave the registered owner of that entry my contact information but they never reached out to me for whatever reason, which is their prerogative. Some people are media-shy, some don’t want to “jinx” themselves moving forward with so much money on the line, or maybe they’ve just been busy with bigger priorities. Anyway, Shaboom is currently 29-14-2 (67.4%) and tied for 52nd place.

The SuperContest pays out to the Top 100 finishers. For the rest of us, there’s also a $15,000 mini-contest for the top player(s) over the last three weeks of the NFL regular season (Weeks 15-17).

Here is the current SuperContest leaderboard with the Top 20 plus ties (for full standings, go to vsin.com/supercontest):

PERSONAL GOURMET
4
1
0
4
36
9
0
36
@PIGSKIN_JUNKIES
3
2
0
3
35
10
0
35
THAT OTHER TEAM
2
3
0
2
32
10
3
33.5
RUSH YYZ 2112
5
0
0
5
33
12
0
33
KAPITAL GAINS
4
1
0
4
31
11
3
32.5
MICKS PICKS
4
1
0
4
31
11
3
32.5
ALEXANDERS IN
4
1
0
4
31
11
3
32.5
JAZ
2
3
0
2
32
12
1
32.5
C SQUARED
5
0
0
5
31
12
2
32
CROWWINGKING.
5
0
0
5
30
11
4
32
THE ITALIAN STALLION
4
1
0
4
31
12
2
32
PARTYWITHTHENOODLER1
4
1
0
4
31
12
2
32
FLASH 15
4
1
0
4
31
12
2
32
FINALLY 2019
3
2
0
3
32
13
0
32
TEXASTRIO
5
0
0
5
31
13
1
31.5
SNOOPYANDPRICKLYPETE
4
1
0
4
30
12
3
31.5
TEAM CLEVELAND 1
3
2
0
3
30
12
3
31.5
7_OUT
5
0
0
5
30
13
2
31
HYMIES HUNAN
5
0
0
5
31
14
0
31
@FORECASTILATOR
4
1
0
4
30
13
2
31
DUELLYS
4
1
0
4
30
13
2
31
NOAH'S ARK
4
1
0
4
30
13
2
31
ELVIS LEI
4
1
0
4
30
13
2
31
#JOHNNYDRAMA
4
1
0
4
30
13
2
31
DYLAN MAX DYLAN
4
1
0
4
29
12
4
31
XRAYMD
4
1
0
4
31
14
0
31
KEEPPOUNDING
4
1
0
4
31
14
0
31
MOOSEMOJO55
3
2
0
3
30
13
2
31
7 SHOTS
3
2
0
3
30
13
2
31
5PUPS
3
2
0
3
30
13
2
31
BET CHICAGO FRANK
3
2
0
3
31
14
0
31
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