Kona Lottery Shut Down

Ironman hit by gambling laws

May 13, 2015
Outside Magazine
Kona Lottery Shut Down

If Ironman eliminates lottery spots, qualification for Kona will be limited to a basis in ability and legacy status.    P T Withington/Flickr

The Ironman Corporation announced Wednesday that it is shutting down its Kona lottery program immediately, Slowtwitch.com reports. The lottery allowed athletes to pay a nonrefundable $50 for the chance of winning one of 100 slots at the company’s flagship triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

The Department of Justice said the program “fell afoul of existing lottery and gambling laws,” Slowtwitch’s Dan Empfield writes. In a settlement with the Department of Justice, Ironman forfeited $2,761,910 in lottery proceeds, the amount Ironman had made from the program in the past three years.

Ironman has had a lottery system in some form since 1983. The program was enacted as an effort to let athletes of all abilities—not just those who qualify by finishing an Ironman event at the top of their age group—the chance to race in Kona, the birthplace of Ironman.

Beginning in 2012, athletes got an increased chance of being selected in the lottery based on the number of years they had entered the lottery. “For each year since 2004 that an athlete has registered for the IRONMAN Lottery, his or her chances increase accordingly,” Ironman’s website states. But athletes had to have “consecutive entries, year-over-year, to maintain credit from previous years.” 

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