How The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Guys Got To Sponsor A College Football Bowl Game For Free

Phil Robertson at the Duck Commander Bowl
Getty Image

Last year’s Duck Commander Independence Bowl featured the 6-6 South Carolina Gamecocks defeating the 6-6 Miami Hurricanes 24-21 in a battle of two average teams that couldn’t believe they were lucky enough to spend Christmas in Shreveport. The biggest highlight of the game was delivered by USC receiver and bowl MVP Pharoh Cooper, who had a 78-yard touchdown reception in the first half. Otherwise, there probably aren’t a lot of people clamoring to produce a 30 for 30 on one of many forgettable bowl games.

But it turns out that last year’s Independence Bowl is pretty interesting in terms of people saying, “Whoops!” because this year’s game is already looking for a new sponsor.

While the Duck Dynasty gang has made more headlines in the last year or so for Phil Robertson’s stance on gay marriage and make believe story of an atheist’s family being raped and killed, they still run a very successful #BRAND that has the kind of money that any bowl game would love for a sponsorship. Especially right in their home state of Louisiana. Except it’s hard to collect that money when you’re basically just giving the sponsorship away.

The Independence Bowl’s unique arrangement with Duck Commander lasted only one year.

Outgoing Independence Bowl chairman Paul Pratt told KTBS on Wednesday, “After reviewing everything, the model that was presented to them didn’t work in the end and we’re going back to the drawing board. We’re still working with them with a post-game review to see if we can put in place a financial mechanism that works for them and the bowl. We’re currently in the market for a new title sponsor. We officially, as of (Tuesday) started to look at a search firm to go out and find us either local or national sponsor, but our goal is to have a 2015 Independence Bowl game.’’ (Via the Shreveport Times)

It turns out that instead of a contract that would have required Duck Commander to pay money for sponsorship privileges, like having its logo on the bowl game’s logo and stadium, the Independence Bowl officials only had the Robertsons sign a “letter of intent.” That means no lump sum payment and ultimately few or no partners for “sponsorship and revenue opportunities.” Basically, Duck Commander got a free bowl sponsorship that costs most other companies plenty.

As always, news like this reminds me of the interesting and infuriating 2012 Yahoo! Sports breakdown of the behind-the-scenes extravagance and absurd price tags on the biggest bowl games. Athletic directors were reportedly fed up with schools having to pay up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for tickets for faculty, personnel and family to attend the big games. “It’s intense,” said one “major conference athletic director” interviewed. “There is an air of desperation.” Like, “letter of intent” and hope to God they pay up desperation? Because that air seems like smog right now.