Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn didn’t have to sweat out Duke’s 68-63 championship-clinching win over Wisconsin, already having clinched a $360,000 victory of his own for charity.
Competing against 35 other leaders from top corporations and financial institutions in the Bloomberg Bracket Challenge, Cohn picked the Badgers to knock off the Blue Devils’ Monday in the title game of the men’s college basketball tournament. However, he had clinched the title two days earlier when Wisconsin upset undefeated Kentucky in the semifinal round.
Cohn finished with 170 points, making 47 of his 63 picks correctly. With each entrant pledging $10,000 to the winner’s charity of choice, his win will benefit Harlem RBI, a charity that gives inner-city youths the opportunity to “Play, Learn and Grow.”
Richard Berlin, Harlem RBI’s executive director, is a Wisconsin graduate.
“You compartmentalize these things,” Berlin said in a phone interview about Cohn’s donation and his alma mater’s defeat. “Let’s just say I was playing with house money last night, so a little less pain.”
Harlem RBI’s total organizational budget is about $20 million, of which about $12 million comes from philanthropy, Berlin said. The non-profit runs Dream Charter School, which began in 2008 in public-school space and in September 2016 will move with Harlem RBI into a new $53 million building, serving 500 pre-k to eighth graders.
Cohn’s donation “will help cover the cost of growing into that space,” Berlin said.
John Chambers, the chairman and chief executive officer of Cisco Systems Inc., finished second in the bracket pool with 155 points. Steve Pagliuca, the managing director of Bain Capital Partners, was third with 154 points.