Ironman have agreed to forfeit the amount after the US Department of Justice decided that the Kona lottery system, whereby potential entrants can pay a fee and potentially get an entry by ballot rather than qualify on merit, fell foul of US lottery and gambling laws. The 100 successful entrants from the lottery would then have to pay the original $850 entry fee, but the $50 fee was non-refundable for unsuccessful entrants.
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This means that as things stand the only way to get into Kona will be by achieving a qualifying time or through the ‘Legacy Program’, which grants 100 places to entrants who have previously raced in at least 12 Ironman-branded events.
Ironman are looking at other models with which to open up the 100 slots that can’t be given out through the lottery from 2016 onwards; although it is unlikely they will make a similar arrangement quickly because of the risks with falling foul of their agreement with the US Government.
Ironman cooperated fully with the investigation and the settlement was arranged out of court; however Ironman Chief Executive Andrew Messick stated that they believed the lottery system was legal but were forced to bow to pressure. It was reported that ironically Jimmy Muench, an Assistant US Attorney in the case against Ironman, is an 8-time Ironman Florida finisher.