Your Best Picks For The FanDuel, DraftKings Presidential Debate Contests

You can win thousands of dollars with no risk playing in a pair of pick'em-style contests for Tuesday's presidential debate.
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You can’t gamble on the presidential “debates” in a traditional sense via the regulated online/mobile sportsbooks available in many states. However, two of the top sportsbooks are offering a free-play pick’em contest where you can win real cash.

A debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is set for Tuesday, Sept. 29. It’s the highly anticipated first of their three debates this fall ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have contests available for play on their respective websites and smartphone applications. Both contests ask players pretty straightforward yes/no or multiple choice questions. The person or persons who answer the most questions correct will win.

FanDuel contest

The individual(s) with the most correct answers will receive or split a $10,000 prize. In addition, the overall winner(s) across all four debates (which includes the VP debate) will earn up to another $10,000.

Here are the questions and your best selections:

1. How will the candidates greet each other? (Handshake, Fist bump, Elbow bump, No touching)

A handshake won’t happen, according to reports. They won’t be wearing masks at all on stage. No touching has to be the clear favorite here, considering both COVID-19 and the bad blood between the two. The era of pleasantries between presidential candidates might be over. Biden once said he wanted to punch Trump in the face. If they do touch, an elbow bump would be the winner, as Biden has been doing that with people elsewhere, but isn’t it hard to see Trump agreeing to do an elbow bump? It’s unclear whether they will even get within six feet of each other. Why would they with the stakes said to be so high?

2. What issue will be the first debate topic addressed? (COVID-19, Supreme Court, Election Integrity, Other)

Let’s start with pointing out that there are six debate topics on tap: “The Trump and Biden Records,” “The Supreme Court,” “COVID-19,” “The Economy,” “Race and Violence in our Cities,” and “The Integrity of the Election.”

We have no idea what comes up first, but here are some thoughts. The Supreme Court fight is the top news story right now, and with FOX News’ Chris Wallace being the first moderator, the SCOTUS nomination might be the favorite. For FOX News, the Supreme Court fight is a top priority in terms of coverage, and right-wing commentators love to underplay both COVID-19 and election integrity. That said, Wallace, who is considered moderate compared to other FNC journalists and commentators, may elect to ease the candidates into arguably the most bitter partisan topic of the evening, not that the other topics aren’t also very toxic. “Other” is a very viable selection here, considering the anti-racist uprising might be the first topic, and “other” would also cover the “records” topic. Let’s definitely rule out election integrity here.

We’ll go with COVID-19 as the favorite, considering public health should be non-partisan and the fact that Tuesday’s debate was originally slated to be in Indiana, before COVID-19 concerns moved it to Cleveland. Wallace could make note of that as a segue into the first topic. COVID-19 as the first topic also sets the stage well for talking about the economy and mail-in voting.

3. Which candidate will be asked to respond first in the debate?

This should have been a coin toss, literally, as they usually flip one to see who answers the first question. However, CNN reported that Trump will get the first question. So there you have it. This question is a freebie.

4. What color will Trump’s tie be? (Red, Blue, Other)

This is a hard one. He wore blue to the first debate in 2016, and then red for the other two. A superstitious Trump would wear blue again, right? Going back to 1976, Republicans have worn a red tie on the debate stage more than 60% of the time. Trump is also a frequent wearer of multi-colored ties, but that seems less likely for a debate. Flip a coin here or do more research on presidents and their ties than US Bets has time to do. Surely one could come up with an educated guess if one was willing to put in the research.

5. Will Trump refer to Biden as “Sleepy Joe”?

This should be something like -10000. Trump has used this nickname incessantly, and very recently as well. It’s just a matter of how many times Trump uses the unsavory nickname.

6. Will Biden and/or the moderator mention Trump’s Twitter activity?

Assuming no catch here with the meaning of “activity,” it seems almost guaranteed that his tweets will come up. Biden often references Trump’s tweets and there’s no reason to assume he won’t go after that infamous Twitter feed. This is as likely as “Sleepy Joe.”

7. Will Biden mention “Scranton”?

Considering that the debate is in Cleveland, a rust belt city in a swing state next to Biden’s birth state of Pennsylvania –also a key swing state — it appears likely Scranton will be mentioned. Biden uses it to talk about his working class roots. Let’s call it 65-35 in favor of the Pennsylvania town receiving a shoutout, possibly in Biden’s closing remarks. Biden is also planning to stump in Pennsylvania after the first debate.

8. Which candidate will be the first one cut off by the moderator because they are over time?

Trump has to be the favorite here for obvious reasons, but Biden surely has been coached not to appear timid on the stage. In the debates during the Democratic primary, Biden often cut himself off out of apparent concern about going over time.

9. Will Biden play a song on his phone during the debate?

No. Biden did this earlier this month at a public event, but it’s not happening on debate night.

10. Will Trump mention “fake news”? 

He’s talked about “fake news” relentlessly for years. There’s no reason to assume the words wouldn’t come out of his mouth on Tuesday. This would be better as an over/under.

DraftKings contest

The DraftKings pick’em for the first debate offers a $50,000 prize pool with a $5,000 first-place prize, assuming no multiple winners. It’s also free to enter for debate watchers.

1. When the candidates walk onto the stage, how will they first greet each other?

See answer above.

2. Who will be the first to speak?

See above (but it’s Trump).

3. Who will say the word “China” first?

Technically, Trump often doesn’t know how to pronounce “China,” but DraftKings isn’t going to judge based on pronunciation. Trump has to be the favorite considering he’ll make China a major talking point with regards to the economy and COVID-19. When the pandemic comes up, Trump could easily mention China multiple times. Biden might not mention China on the virus topic.

4. Which of these listed former candidates will be mentioned first by either Trump or Biden by name? (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, None)

It’s hard to see Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar being mentioned in the first debate. Michael Bloomberg is also unlikely, unless he becomes a target of a Trump insult. Elizabeth Warren might be mentioned in a derogatory way by Trump as red meat for the base, but Warren isn’t anywhere near the center of the news cycle right now. Bernie Sanders seems like a big favorite to be mentioned by Biden, in the context of Biden receiving his endorsement. Biden is trying to court those Sanders voters. Trump is also more likely to mention Sanders than any of the other former Democratic candidates, as part of an effort to undermine Biden’s support. Many progressive Democrats are still upset that Sanders isn’t the nominee.

5. Who will be mentioned first by name by either candidate? (Mike Pence, Kamala Harris, Neither)

This seems like a pure toss-up, and it could come down to who talks first. If we had to pick a favorite, it’s probably Kamala Harris, considering there’s probably some necessity for Biden to pump up Harris’ stock during the first debate. Trump may also attack Harris right away. Trump will likely give a “thank you” of some sort to Mike Pence during the debate, but that might come toward the end of the night.

6. Who will be mentioned first by either candidate? (Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Neither)

Barack Obama is sure to be mentioned, and there’s little reason to assume Hillary Clinton would be mentioned first, unless she’s the subject of an early attack by Trump. It doesn’t make sense for Biden to be talking much about Clinton on Tuesday.

7. Who will mention Dr. Anthony Fauci first?

Biden surely. Doesn’t Trump like to pretend Fauci doesn’t exist? That said, it is possible neither mentions Fauci by name, but one would assume Biden would use Fauci as a way to hit Trump on the response to COVID-19. “Listen to the doctors,” as Biden says.

8. How many of his children will Donald Trump mention by name during the debate? (0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5)

Everyone knows America is a country of nepotism on both sides of the aisle, and that will likely be evident at the debate. As for Trump’s children being mentioned by name, it’s really just a gamble here. The favorite is probably zero, but an Ivanka Trump mention seems quite possible. Reports surfaced Monday that Trump thought about having his daughter as his 2016 running mate. While the moderator isn’t going to be asking about that, Trump may reference those reports for sh-ts and giggles and thus name-drop his daughter. His sons are probably less likely to get mentioned by name. It’s unlikely Trump is going to mention his 14-year-old kid, so you can most likely rule out 5. This question will bust a lot of brackets.

Image credit: kirkchai benjarusameeros /

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