Why John Oliver Is So Mad About March Madness

March Madness begins tomorrow. You know that because you're either really into men's college basketball, or you came into work today to find an empty bracket sitting on your desk. Before you get too excited about the sporting event, though, John Oliver wants you to know just how awful the college athletes are treated during this billion-dollar franchise.

According to Last Week Tonight, CBS/Turner will receive more than $1 billion in TV advertising revenue — more ad dollars than the Super Bowl generates. Yet, the athletes aren't paid anything because they're students. In his 20-minute monologue about this problem, Oliver makes all sorts of good points. For example, a former NCAA athlete's likeness was used in a video game, but the athlete received no compensation for it.
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WalletHub compiled some additional fuel for Oliver's fire. According to the financial site, the average NBA rookie earns 16 times more per year — $1.9 million — than the average annual value of tuition and room and board for a D1 NCAA men's basketball player. Meanwhile, student athletes cannot even receive a free lunch from their coach. 

And, though Oliver noted CBS/Turner will receive more than $1 billion in advertising revenue for March Madness, that doesn't come close to what the network paid for the broadcasting rights for the NCAA tournaments from 2011-2024: a cool $10.8 billion.

WalletHub would also like to remind you that investing too much time and effort — and money — into March Madness is a bad idea. You're two times more likely to win back-to-back Mega Millions lotteries than to fill out a perfect bracket. Plus, fans of a losing team are responsible for a 19% increase in pizza orders. So, while we know you can't fix the player compensation problem and you're probably going to lose $20 in the office pool, if you're going to drown your sorrows in takeout, at least try to order locally.


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