Economist Richard Thaler recalls giving draft advice to Dan Snyder

Monday June 22nd, 2015

Renowned behavioral economist Richard Thaler recalled the time he offered draft advice to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in an appearance on Sports Illustrated's "This Is Your Brain On Sports" podcast. 

Speaking to host Jon Wertheim, Thaler recounted advising Snyder on the team's draft strategy, only for the team to do the complete opposite. 

“Dan Snyder had recently bought the Washington-based football team and he was invited by the Chicago Booth entrepreneurship club at the business school where I teach to give a talk," Thaler told Wertheim. “So they asked if I would moderate this and interview Mr. Snyder, as he insisted on being called by all of his employees. I told him about all of the research we were doing about the NFL draft and he got all excited. ‘We want to be the best at everything,’ he said.”

Thaler and Snyder met later that week with two of his associates and says they had a mutually beneficial discussion. The conversation continued after the season ended, and Thaler believed the staff had understood his two takeaways for the draft: Trade down and trade picks this year for better picks next year.

But when the draft came, the team did exactly the opposite of what Thaler had suggested. Washington moved up in the draft and traded away a high draft pick for the following year to get a lower one. When he asked the team what happened, Thaler was told: “Mr. Snyder wanted to win now.”

Listen to the full podcast below or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and check back every week for a new episode:

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