If little-known gridiron player Wayne Dropulich manages to snatch a WA Senate seat, it will be a feat akin to ice skater Steven Bradbury winning Winter Olympic gold.
Mr Dropulich's Australian Sports Party polled the seventh lowest tally of primary votes in WA but is expected to harvest preferences from other minor parties including fundamental Christians, climate change sceptics and pot smokers.
At times, Mr Dropulich comes perilously close to being eliminated from the contest as the count progresses only to stay alive thanks to a flow of preferences when another minor party is excluded.
These timely injections of preferences allow Mr Dropulich to leapfrog other candidates and eventually pass Labor incumbent Louise Pratt, Nationals hopeful David Wirrpanda and Palmer United Party's Dio Wang despite them winning thousands more primary votes.
It is a phenomenon being repeated in other Senate races, with non-Greens minor and single-issue parties set to win seats in every State, according to ABC election analyst Antony Green's assessment.
But the upset results have prompted criticism it is undemocratic for candidates with tiny support bases to win seats.
With 62 per cent of the vote counted so far, Mr Dropulich has polled just 1908 primary votes out of 896,345 - the equivalent of 0.0155 of a Senate quota.
In comparison Senator Pratt has 109,593 votes or 0.89 of a quota (after the election of Labor's lead candidate Joe Bullock), Mr Wirrpanda 37,140 votes (0.3 of a quota) and Mr Wang 45,212 votes (0.37). Greens incumbent Scott Ludlam has 85,782 votes (0.7) of a quota but is projected to overtake Senator Pratt and win the final seat.
Voters who vote above the line by filling in one box have no control over where their preferences go. Instead, preferences are allocated based on group voting tickets each party submits to the electoral commission.
Some of the micro parties whose preferences are aiding Mr Dropulich include Christian-based and anti-Islam party Rise Up Australia, Family First and the Australian Christians, the Climate Change Sceptics, the Motoring Enthusiasts, WikiLeaks Party, Shooters and Fishers and Help End Marijuana Prohibition.
WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls said the minor parties had "played the systems" to get themselves elected.
"We had Dave Wirrpanda, an outstanding candidate, but only got around 0.4 of a quota," he said. "We needed to get 100,000 votes, not 40,000, and if you're going to win you've got to get that primary vote up.
"It wouldn't surprise me though if they do move to a system to vote one to 20 above the line.
"That would probably mean less of that preference sharing amongst the small parties."
But Glenn Druery, a political consultant dubbed the "preferences whisperer" for his work with minor parties, said it was good for democracy when small groups could have their say through the political process.
"Let's not forget that the minor parties did not invent the system," he told ABC radio.
"This system was invented by the major parties to keep small parties out. I don't think that they ever really figured out that somebody would learn how to use the system."
The quality of the unknowns who will be paid $200,000 a year by taxpayers has also been brought into sharp focus.A YouTube video of Victorian Ricky Muir of the Motoring Enthusiasts Party emerged yesterday of him throwing kangaroo poo in a mock fight. Mr Muir may also be a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.