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Americans love sports. I’m not sure of the statistics, but I’m pretty sure that’s a fact. Americans are suckers for a good Rudy-like plot line and get a rush marveling at the athletic prowess of the pros. Yet, as popular as sports are, perhaps Americans are even more interested in pop culture. (American Idol has the ratings to prove it.) So I wasn’t surprised to learn a Denverite had taken the idea of fantasy sports—where you “draft” players who score virtual points based on their actual performances—and translated it for a pop culture audience.
Intrigued by Denise Riley’s Celebrity Fantasy Draft, some of the 5280 editors decided to sign up for an eight-week season. (The first season is free and each subsequent season is $20.) Just like fantasy football, there is a draft, so I printed off a list of the top-scoring celebrities from the Celebrity Fantasy Draft website and determined the draft order at random. The first pick: Kim Kardashian. She was rated number one on the draft board and proved to be worth the top pick. Kardashian “scored” 164 points during the season, which was only behind Kate Middleton who scored 178, Katie Holmes who scored 201, and Tom Cruise who scored 182.
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Points are accrued according to red-carpet snafus and media scandals: your celeb made the cover of Us Weekly? Plus 10 points. Your celeb went to rehab? Minus 10 points. Some staffers came to the draft prepared: At the time, the Hunger Games movie was about to be released, and so smart drafters made Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth top priorities. They figured, one way or another, they’d be in tabloids. Others, like myself, were less prepared: Oprah is a big deal, right? I’ll take her! (Oprah scored a grand total of 10 points all season.) Other successful draft picks included Kristen Stewart, Prince William, Katy Perry, Suri Cruise, and Emma Stone.
During the season, there was some trash talking in the office, and at least a few moments when I wished the Celebrity Fantasy Draft allowed for trades. (Perhaps I could have gotten rid of Oprah.) I even found myself sneaking glances at the covers of Us Weekly and People magazines in the grocery store. Riley, the creator of the league, says guys tend to get into the leagues as much as 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.”
In the end, the 5280 office was faced with a frustrating outcome: The person who couldn’t make the draft and requested his drafting be put on auto-pilot—when it was his turn, he got the highest-rated celeb available—won. Now, that seems downright unfair. Except that it isn’t. Rematch, anyone?
The winning team:
Kim Kardashian: 164 points
Katy Perry: 108 points
Reese Witherspoon: 59 points
Pippa Middleton: 16 points
Cameron Diaz: 38 points
Robert Pattinson: 50 points
Ryan Reynolds: 10 points
Ben Flajnik: 26 points
Scott Disick: 22 points
Shiloh Jolie-Pitt: 28 points
Jessica Alba: 55 points
Mariah Carey: 20 points
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock