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Let’s Play Fantasy Dividends

A whiff of Wall Street scandal has come to the world of fantasy football. Recently, a New York Times story alleged that employees at DraftKings and FanDuel, two leading fantasy sports sites, had been using nonpublic, insider information to their advantage.

Since football is our national religion, I wouldn’t be surprised if insider trading in make-believe teams (although the money is real) creates more public outrage than financial insider trading. In both spheres, getting too worked up over insiders pulling one over on outsiders may be a case of getting excited over the wrong thing. Fantasy football, after all, is an online morphing of gambling, which is always prone to finagling and shouldn’t be encouraged in the first place.

"Real" Insider Trading

As far as financial insider trading goes, top corporate officials would have to be complete morons to get caught violating insider trading rules when they can profit perfectly legally from early warning signs that only they get to see. For others who trade on inside, non-public information — those in and around Wall Street and people in and around the news business — it’s good that the Securities and Exchange Commission is around to spot and attack egregious examples of wrongdoing, especially if they involve fraud or outright theft.

One such case involved hackers who broke into the servers of a press release wire service and traded off embargoed earnings announcements before the information was released to the public. But the idea that the SEC can make the market safe for individual investors gives false confidence and dulls a very healthy sense of “buyer beware” that should accompany any investor’s foray into public securities markets.

Inside Football

Now, back to sports. I’m convinced I have a colorblind-like genetic defect because I’m completely indifferent to football. If it’s a TV choice between a Packers-Steelers game and a program about packaging machines and steel mills on Modern Marvels, you’ll find me glued to the History Channel. Yet I envy the enthusiasm of diehard football fans who cheer for teams that are billion-dollar enterprises in a huge media business. To me, it’s like cheering for CBS vs. ABC when The Big Bang Theory gets higher ratings than Scandal.

Which gave me an idea.

Wanna Play?

Why not create fantasy dividend teams? If you can cheer for the Bears, let’s also cheer for Boeing (BA)! If the jet maker were fighting for a contract against Airbus (EADSY) and I “knew” its 787 would beat out the A321, I’d put Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg on my fantasy dividend team. Go Dennis go! Ink that deal! Show those Toulouse tools who’s boss.

And who wouldn’t want Alex Gorsky on his/her fantasy team? Alex is the star quarterback of the Jersey Johnson & Johnsons (JNJ ), and I can’t wait to cheer him on against CEO Kenneth Frazier and his home-state rivals, the Merck (MRK ) Marauders. What unbelievable research plays can these giants pull off without jeopardizing their dividends? Now, that’s excitement!

Make your dividend bets and let’s kick off the game.

Image courtesy of arkorn at