User of KC-based Knoda app predicts winner of Esurance‘s $1.5 million Super Bowl contest

02/07/2014 8:13 AM

02/07/2014 8:13 AM

On Super Bowl Sunday, Esurance announced a $1.5 million giveaway and nearly blew up Twitter when people rushed there to enter the contest.

The lucky winner was announced Wednesday night on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, but one Kansas City man had already predicted the name of the winner – 36 hours before.

He did it on Knoda, a free prediction phone app started last year in Kansas City by Kyle Rogers and James Flexman.

The Knoda folks are hailing the prediction as their first “Nostradamus moment.”

Their app, introduced in November, lets users make, track, rank and archive random predictions on subjects big and small – from game scores and who will win Oscars to when Justin Bieber finally goes to jail. (Sign up at or the iPhone App Store


Trash-talking is more than encouraged as people can “agree” or “disagree” with posted predictions.

Here’s how the Esurance prediction came about.

Knoda (pronounced "no-duh") user Mark Hellevang, a KC investment banker who goes by “Johnny Optimist,” predicted at 10:35 a.m. Tuesday that Twitter user John Intrater would win.

More than 3 million entries had been submitted using the hashtag ##EsuranceSave30.

Predict the winner? Yeah, right.

Hellevang, turns out, just happened to be looking in the right place at the right time.

“The contest ended Tuesday morning. That morning, when I woke up, I checked the esurance Twitter account and noticed they had followed 10 new people that morning,” he told the Knoda folks.

“Five of those were verified accounts so I dismissed them. The other 5 included the winner (John Intrater) and 4 others. The other 4 had entered thousands of times whereas John had only entered once. So I suspected John was the winner.

“John then tweeted out that he had gotten an email from a company called Prizelogic. He immediately deleted the tweet and then went radio silent.

“So at that moment, I felt like he was probably the winner. I just happened to be on Twitter the few minutes when he made that tweet and then deleted it. Had I not been, I might not have known.”

Kimmel sent a camera crew to Northern California on Wednesday where John Intrater – identified only as “John” – a 29-year-old newlywed, lives with his pregnant wife. They were shocked when they were handed a huge stack of cash.

John’s wife said her husband had sent just one tweet into the contest.

Hellevang decided to post his prediction on Knoda because his friends aren’t interested in the random predictions he comes up with all the time.

“But I can put them on Knoda and there’s going to be people interested,” he told the company.

And that’s exactly why Rogers and Flexman created Knoda, to etch predictions like that into the history books and give people like Hellevang bragging rights.

“We are pumped because this is exactly why we built Knoda,” Rogers tells Stargazing.

“Previously Mark could have claimed he figured out, but probably no one would have believed him. Now he has proof and a time stamp on his prediction.”

So brag away, dude. Brag away. It might be the only "prize" you get. (Hint, hint, Esurance.)