A Northern Ireland man is well on his way to becoming a billionaire courtesy of the huge success of his online sports fantasy game in the United States.
Nigel Eccles, from Co Tyrone, founded FanDuel six years ago - and his company is now valued at a staggering $1.3bn (£0.84bn) courtesy of a $275m (£176m) injection from private equity investors.
The 40-year-old Cookstown man, who grew up on a diary farm, co-founded and launched FanDuel with his wife Lesley (42) only six years ago. The couple live in Edinburgh and have three children - Archie (10), Hector (8) and two-year-old Annie.
Eccles - who is now on course to become Northern Ireland's richest man - is the company's chief executive and Lesley, whom he met in 1995 when they were students at St Andrews University in Scotland, is its executive vice-president.
“I’m incredibly proud of the business we have developed and FanDuel’s success is testament to the combined hard work and commitment of not only the co-founding team but also the talented teams we have built up in the UK and US offices,” Mr Eccles told the Belfast Telegraph.
“The recent funding round was a significant boost for us and having partners like KKR, Google Capital and Time Warner/Turner Sports on board consolidates FanDuel’s position as a global leader in one day online fantasy sports and sets the pace for our controlled growth strategy.”
He added: “The company continues to go from strength to strength and this year we have embarked on an ambitious recruitment drive to double our headcount, with a particular focus on software engineers including java, python and front-end developers.
“The recent acquisition of Edinburgh app developer Kotikan brings our numbers up to 290 across our UK and US offices and with the opening of our Glasgow office set for later this year, we expect these numbers to continue to grow.”
Unlike other season-long games, FanDuel offers games for NFL (American football), NBA (basketball), MLB (baseball) and NHL (ice-hockey), as well as college football and basketball, that last just one day.
Its marketplace lets you play for free or bet up to $5,000 to build a team of players. You can play head-to-head or in a league with up to 125,000 teams. The winning team is the one with the best player stats, which translate into fantasy points.
Using a salary cap system for team selection, players can challenge friends or otherusers whenever they want without having to commit to the entire season. Players enter free or paid contests and depending on their skill in selecting their line-up they can win prizes, cash or simply bragging rights.
Millions in the US use FanDuel to try to win prize money from a multi-million dollar pot. The company is due to double its revenue from $57m in 2014 to $100m this year.