Livonia native wins $1 million playing fantasy sports for a living

 Livonia native wins $1 million playing fantasy sports for a living

Mike Petta pictured with his $1 million DraftKings lineup.

Livonia native Mike Petta is living the dream of the millions of daily fantasy sports enthusiasts on the planet.

Petta, a Livonia Franklin alum who resides in Novi with his wife Jennifer (also a Franklin grad) and their two children, plays daily fantasy sports for a living — and he does it well.

On Oct. 2, the former accountant banked $1,022,667 when he placed first in DraftKings’ most-lucrative one-day contest of the NFL season. His nine-player team — six of whom played in that day’s Seattle-at-Detroit game won by the Seahawks 48-45 — racked up 252 points to outscore the rest of the approximate 240,000 entries … but just barely.

“I was in second place and I needed (Las Vegas Raider running back) Josh Jacobs to score a touchdown,” Petta said, reflecting on the nail-biting end to his incredible payday. “Jacobs scored on an 8-yard run with less than two minutes left in the game and that pretty much sealed it for me. It was a nerve-wracking afternoon, to say the least.”

Time to get serious

Petta competed recreationally in season-long fantasy leagues until 2014 when he decided to turn the hobby into a full-time career.

“When I told my wife my plans to quit my job to play fantasy sports for a living, naturally she was a little nervous,” he recounted, smiling. “Let’s just say it was an awkward conversation. But the decision has paid off.”

Mike Petta is pictured with his wife Jennifer and their two children

In addition to his $1 million-plus winnings in 2022, Petta said he has racked up one other year when he earned close to seven figures. He annually makes more than his former accounting job paid, he said.

“There was a learning curve involved when I first started playing daily fantasy sports,” he said. “It took me about a year to figure it out, get the strategies down. When you’re doing this full-time, you have to put a lot of time into research, checking out which players’ salaries have the most value. It’s fun, but there’s work involved.”

The most unpredictable league is …

Petta said the NFL is his favorite league when it comes to DFS — and he has over a million reasons for that.

The most unpredictable league to invest in is Major League Baseball, he revealed.

“You can have the best hitter in the league facing the worst pitcher in the league and he can still go 0-for-4 or 0-for-5,” Petta said. “On the other hand, if you have LeBron James — or another NBA superstar — playing against the league’s worst defense, it’s pretty much a certainty he’s going to put up a good stat line.”

DFS players build a lineup each day of players who are tagged with a performance-based “salary”. DFS competitors’ lineups must remain under a pre-determined salary cap and the players earn points based on the statistics they compile.

“I spend quite a bit of time building the teams before the games start,” Petta said. “When I first started doing this full-time, I’d watch as many NFL games as I could on Sundays from 1 p.m. until the night game ended. Now, I’ve reached a point where I’ll still watch games, just not to the point I did before.”

Pivoting during pandemic

Petta was laid off, so to speak, from his DFS job when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down professional sports for several months in 2020.

“So myself and a buddy of mine took that time to create a website — — that focuses on providing content for fantasy sports players and bettors,” he said. “It’s going really well. We have subscriptions people can buy — weekly, monthly and an annual membership.

“We have 35 independent contractors who cover all of the sports that DraftKings offers contests in. We’ll have more of our team dedicated to the main sports like the NFL and MLB, but we also have guys who provide information on NASCAR, UFC and tennis.”

Petta said he enters DraftKings contests pretty much every day — with his action increasing when league schedules overlap like in April when the NBA and MLB are both playing.

Win or lose, he’s living the dream.

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Ed Wright

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