NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Drew Dinkmeyer was a 31-year old investment analyst working for CapTrust Financial Advisers in Tampa, Florida, when he quit the finance game for good last year. It doesn't look he's going to be back sorting clients' data in a spreadsheet any time soon, either.
While some bankers were sweating out bonus packages Monday night, Dinkmeyer collected a bonus of his own: $1 million, which he took through online weekly fantasy challenge site DraftKings on Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's first touchdown during an otherwise uneventful contest. The pass Cutler threw to Marquess Wilson, a Chicago wideout, put Dinkmeyer up for good over about 100,000 competitors who entered DraftKings' weekly challenge.
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Instead of being soaked with sweat this bonus season, he was soaked with champagne, celebrating the big payday.
Now, he says, he's going to invest much of the winnings, but he first has to satisfy an obligation to his biggest partner, his wife, who supported his gutsy decision to take his talents to the fantasy gridiron.
"I promised my wife we could go on a vacation of her choice," Dinkmeyer said in a phone interview with TheStreet.
When Dinkmeyer isn't putting together championship lineups, he's writing and doing webcasts for fantasy sports strategy site RotoExperts.com, he said.
Writing is what got Dinkmeyer into the weekly NFL challenge game. He used to publish and sell content across a number of platforms advising online players, but he didn't make enough until he put some skin in the game.
"I've been a sports fan for so long and I wanted to make a career out of it," he said, "but I just kept hitting dead ends."
That changed when his wife suggested he pick one career or the other -- fantasy versus finance -- with the stipulation she would support his decision either way. In the last 18 months, Dinkmeyer has taken home some significant wins -- already, he says, enough to take care of him and his wife -- but Monday's $1 million challenge win catapults them into a whole new tax bracket.
Dinkmeyer isn't the only finance whiz in the weekly fantasy games, either.
"A lot of top-level fantasy players have a financial background," he said. "If you come up with an algorithm that makes sense, you can be successful at this."
More and more players are trying their hands. Though he declined to offer numbers, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said hundreds of thousands of fee-paying players have signed up for DraftKings.
Much like online poker sites, which lured hard-working professionals to digital gaming tables 10 years ago, big names like Dinkmeyer can take care of themselves independently with enough wins at DraftKings or at FanDuel, its biggest competitor.
But playing weekly fantasy football for high-stakes prizes doesn't cost a fortune -- Dinkmeyer tweeted that his big win only cost him a $27 entry fee.
Spending on season-long fantasy games (which is not DraftKings' business), as well as weekly challenges, is a multi-billion dollar business, set to continue to growing rapidly. This weekend, with more season-long fantasy players -- including this author -- stewing on Sunday about their sporting shortcomings, Robins said that attrition from annual fantasy leagues is a big help for DraftKings' prize pool, now up to $300 million this year.
"It's people who bought [into season-long] fantasy leagues and got knocked out, who come back and want another shot," he said.