Front Range

Gossip Girl

A Denver woman blends fantasy sports and Hollywood tabloids into a creative business endeavor.

August 2012

5280.com Exclusive: Some 5280 editors were curious and played a season of Celebrity Fantasy Draft. The winner? You'll be surprised. 

Denise Riley laughed when a friend asked her to join a fantasy league—she didn’t exactly DVR the evening edition of SportsCenter. But this draft was a little more offbeat: Virtual points would be accrued according to red-carpet snafus and media scandals. Translation: A fantasy league played with celebrities.

Despite her unfamiliarity with pop culture, Riley joined. (They devised a homemade scoring method based on celebs’ tabloid appearances.) “I don’t follow any of that stuff,” Riley says. “My friends took all my money.” But she relished the Hollywood gossip and the game’s friendly banter so much that she began to wonder if it would appeal to others in the same way. So she found investors, hired a Web developer, and, last November, launched Celebrity Fantasy Draft—a for-profit website ($20 for an eight-week season) that manages celebrity leagues similar to the sports versions run by sites like ESPN and Yahoo. The draft hosts about 160 leagues with players from all over the country—and they’re not all women. “The men are the ones who are out there smack-talking,” Riley says. “There are lots of husbands whose wives get Us Weekly, and the men are the first ones to read it.” celebrityfantasydraft.com