Prop bet-style picks for first Trump-Biden debate

With politics becoming more like sports (and sports becoming more like politics), it only makes sense that FanDuel is offering a free “Presidential Pick ‘em” contest for the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday night.

Here’s how it works: Enter the contest, make your guesses on 10 debate-related questions — which are essentially prop bets — and see how many you get correct at the end of the night. There will be contests for each of the debates over the next four weeks.

PLAY FOR FREE: FanDuel Presidential Pick ’em

With just 10 multiple choice questions (some of which we already definitively know the answers to, spoiler alert), there are only so many ways you can differentiate your guesses and land near the top of the leaderboard. Experienced DFS players know you have to take a few chances to win a FanDuel tournament, and while this isn’t the type of contest you’ll win outright by picking a third-string tight end who scores two touchdowns, it’s still more fun to go out on a limb on at least one or two of the true toss-up questions. Picking with the crowd will land you in the middle of the pack.

So, whether you’re Team Trump or Team Biden —  you follow politics religiously or wish this whole thing was just over already — you can add a little fun and chance for profit to what’s sure to be a night full of pre-planned talking points, incoherent rambling, and non-stop interruptions.

Here are our picks for FanDuel’s first President Pick ‘em debate contest. God bless America.

FanDuel Presidential Pick ’em: Picks, advice for first Trump-Biden debate

1. How will the candidates greet each other? 

  • Elbow bump
  • Fist bump
  • Handshake
  • None of the above

It’s already been determined that there will be no pre-debate handshake. Technically, that doesn’t mean there won’t be a fist bump or elbow bump, but let’s face it — that’s almost certainly not happening. (Everyone knows Trump only fist bumps Queen Elizabeth II anyway.) So, unless these two septuagenarians go rogue, we already know the answer here. 

Our pick: None of the above

2. What issue will the first debate topic address?

  • COVID-19
  • Supreme Court
  • Election Integrity
  • Other

Here’s what the initial press release regarding moderator Chris Wallace’s debate topics said: 

“Subject to possible changes because of news developments, the topics for the September 29 debate are as follows, not necessarily to be brought up in this order:

The Trump and Biden Records

The Supreme Court


The Economy

Race and Violence in our Cities

The Integrity of the Election”

Obviously, all three of the listed choices could be the first topic, but the ongoing civil unrest in many U.S. cities and the recent New York Times report about Trump’s tax returns could also get the nod. It’s also worth noting that the first topic brought up in the initial debates in 2012 and ‘16 was the economy. 

Because it’s so difficult to narrow it down, taking the field gives you more options. If you really feel the need to pick something specific, go with the Supreme Court. It’s the hottest topic right now, and it’s fair to assume all the networks airing this debate will want to start with what’s sure to be a heated conversation. After all, this is still just a big TV show.

Our pick: Other

3. Which candidate will be asked to respond first in the debate?

Here’s another one we already know the answer to. A coin toss was held last week, and it was determined that Trump will respond first.

(It would be way more fun if they did the coin toss live, wouldn’t it? These two would invariably argue what was called, and then the online fact-checkers would weigh in and contradict each other. Finally, one of them would just leave the stage after challenging the other to a push-up contest. Such a missed opportunity.)

Our pick: Trump

4. What color will Trump’s tie be?

The easy pick is “red” because it’s the color associated with states that vote Republican. However, in the first debate in 2016, Trump wore a blue tie (and Hillary Clinton wore a red pants suit!). In the second debate, Trump wore a red tie. In the third debate, he also wore a red tie. 

Trump is almost certainly going to wear red or blue, and while the small sample size from 2016 should have us leaning red, sometimes you need to be contrarian to win a DFS contest. 

Our pick: Blue

5. Will Trump refer to Biden as “Sleepy Joe?”

Rule of thumb: If there’s a question that involves Trump and a derogatory nickname, just take “yes.” The odds will always be in your favor. 

(The only worry is that Trump prefers to use “Joe Hidin’” instead, but chances are he won’t limit himself. Who knows — he might even break out a new one!)

Our pick: Yes

6. Will Biden and/or the moderator mention Trump’s Twitter activity?

Rule of thumb: If there’s a question that involves Trump and Twitter, just take “yes.” The odds will always be in your favor. 

(They really should’ve made this question harder, like asking if Biden and/or the moderator will mention something Trump tweets during the debate. To be clear, we’d still answer “yes.”)

Our pick: Yes

7. Will Biden mention “Scranton?”

Sure, Biden likes to recount folksy stories of his upbringing in Scranton, PA, but it’s not as if he always does it. Plus, too much can happen in a debate that could veer him away from a canned anecdote, so the safe play here is “no.”

Our pick: No

8. Which candidate will be the first to be cut off by the moderator because they are over time?

This a tough one. Like most high-level politicians, Trump is a blowhard, which lends itself to going over time (especially when you’re a world-class blowhard like him). However, Biden often loses his train of thought and stammers for several seconds while trying to remember what he was saying. If he still tries to get out his scripted talking points, he could easily get cut off. 

Guy who loves to hear himself talk vs. Guy who forgets what he’s talking about? We’ll take the latter, but feel free to disagree, especially if you weigh Trump’s desire to always get the last word in more heavily than we are.

Our pick: Biden

9. Will Biden play a song on his phone during the debate?

Biden pulled this gimmick once, but, again, it’s not standard practice for him. Honestly, it would be a gutsy move considering even people who spend 10 hours a day on their phone often open the wrong app when trying to find something in front of others. To count on Biden pulling it off in front of tens of millions of live viewers would be asking for an all-time debate gaffe. (The same would be true of Trump, to be fair.) This is a free space.

Our pick: No

10. Will Trump mention “fake news?”

This is the third Trump-related layup on the board. Trump might call Chris Wallace “fake news” before he even asks a question. Again, FanDuel could’ve made this is a little more difficult and asked if Trump was going to call an inanimate object “fake news.” We want to say “no,” but, you know, maybe. 

Our pick: Yes

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