On June 16, the US Open will begin in Brookline, Massachusetts. While most of us grab our beverage of choice and sit back and watch the players compete in one of golf’s most prestigious events, a Flower Mound resident will most likely choose Pepto Bismol as his beverage. Why? Because his company has six of the top 25 golfers under contract to pay an incentive bonus of $100,000+ in the event one of those six wins. These bonuses are offered to the golfers by their sponsors to provide a financial “thank you” for winning and earning additional exposure to their brand that comes with winning such a prestigious tournament.
Meet Todd Overton of Fugu Prize Indemnity! For the past 31 years, he has provided prize coverage to sponsors wanting to offer life-changing prizes in promotions without worrying about paying if there is a winner. They transfer these types of risks from their books to Fugu’s books for a fee, and when there is a winner, Fugu pays. Prize indemnity is the coverage for prizes offered in contests, games, sweepstakes, promotions, over-redemption, and athlete incentive bonus cases.
“Prize Indemnity is much more than hole-in-one insurance. Anyone can use our services,” Todd says. “Employee bonus promotions are a big part of our business. Offering workers a chance to win a new car is a nice prize but not big enough where they may retire on the spot if they win!”
Originally from Fort Worth, Todd was working in St. Louis as an intern in Anheuser-Busch’s Sports Marketing department in 1990/91. Following a family tragedy, he wanted to move back closer to home. “I sent an email to several companies and landed at SCA Promotions Inc. in Dallas, where I worked for 29 years before starting my own company,” he shared of his career journey.
Why the creative bug in him chose FUGU as the business name is an interesting story. Fugu is a popular Japanese delicacy blowfish; if prepared incorrectly, the eater will die as it is very poisonous. Very few chefs are qualified to prepare it in the world. So, there is an inherent risk in ordering Fugu. “My company is a risk company, and I felt like it was a good fit – short and unique with a somewhat hidden meaning,” he stated.
Just like everything, the prize indemnity market has also changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Around the early 80s, Prize Indemnity consisted almost solely of underwriters covering cars and boats being offered at golf tournaments for anyone hitting a hole in one on a designated hole. The dealerships sponsoring the hole would secure prize coverage to remove the risk from their books. From there, other sports started creating promotions to offer large prizes at their events, such as sinking a half-court shot at a basketball game, kicking a field goal at halftime of a football game, and catching a tagged fish in a local fishing tournament, and other games of skill. After that, games of chance soon followed. Picking the correct key from a pool of keys to start a car, entering a combination on a safe, spinning a prize wheel, etc. “When the internet came along, running an online promotion created many more opportunities within our industry,” Todd added. “We have seen prizes being offered increase from $5,000 or $10,000 to millions.”
Todd is the sole owner of the business. His usual days are occupied providing quotes to prospective clients. FUGU receives all sorts of inquiries and ideas about how a company wants to offer a life-changing prize in a promotion. “There are a lot of creative people in this world. If it’s a math game, it is simple to offer a quote. If it is a non-math game, it can be tricky at times,” he mentioned. “A radio station wanting to offer $1,000,000 if someone finds a dollar bill they released somewhere in the market will have many factors that go into the quoting process – how big is the market, when will the bill be released, what type of establishment will it be released in, etc.”
Best customer service and quick claim payments are the primary keys to thriving in the prize indemnity market, and FUGU is doing the RIGHT THING!