Ironman ran an illegal lottery and must forfeit $2.8 million

TAMPA — Only the dedicated athletes who can invest some money for their training can qualify for the most reputed triathlon, i.e. the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. The other alternative for them is to enter a lottery by paying $50. This is what has been done for past 35 years to get a slot in the Ironman. According to the U.S. Attorney, the profits were received illegally because the World Triathlon Corp., Tampa, charged athletes to give them a chance to win.

Many Companies had to forfeit $2.8 million to the U.S. government from the past three Ironman. The company's attorney, Ed Shohat said that WTC denies that they have done something wrong. Cassie Mc William who had qualified for Ironman in 2007 and 2008 for her age group had to win two half marathons compulsorily to make her way to Hawaii. When she had her 2.4-mile swim that kicked off 140.6 mile Ironman, she was surprised to see her competitors as they didn’t look like the world championship athletes. She said, “I was surprised to see how some people spend so much hard work and money to qualify for a spot and how others just get a spot.” She said that getting in the game has to do only with money.

In 1980 Tarpon Springs ophthalmologist and a partner had bought Hawaii triathlon for $3 million to run WTC and ever since then the Ironman has become even more lucrative. However, in 2008, Ironman sold it to the Providence Equity Partners for something between $50 million to $80 million. Ironman has received monetary benefits ever since then. Now there are about 180 Ironman events in 20 countries and the products like Timex watches manufactured by it costs up to $400. Fortune magazine revealed that the Providence increased its annual revenue upto$150 million. Lottery is just one medium through which WTC made money. Every year, 86,000 people apply for only 2000 slots for swimming, bike race and running in less than 17 hours.

There are four ways to enter the competition – qualify in more than 36 events, lottery, a legacy program for the previous contestants and auction charity at eBay. Every year, there are 100 slots for lottery. Anyone paying $50/ yr can enter and those who pay double to the Passport Club can double their chances of winning. In 2015 lottery, around 14,254 people had invested $50 in lottery and about 6889 had paid $50 extra. This generated about $10,571 for Ironman for each lottery slot. The U.S. Attorney also said that the forfeited amount will be used by the government and will not go to those who had invested in it.

However, the company said that the lottery winners of May 30, 2015 will not be affected by this. They also said that lottery is a traditional thing that was established by John and Judy Collins and Ironman Lottery has made a difference in lives of athletes by providing them opportunity to take part in the world’s most challenging event.