Hey...didn't they LOSE the Super Bowl?

About thirty seconds or so after the Super Bowl, or any other championship sports game, the players start putting on hats and t-shirts that say they’re the champions. Obviously, that means that apparel is printed for both outcomes. The stuff is in the stores the next day.

How much of these t-shirts are printed? I’m sure nobody wants to take a loss when they have to throw away crates of World Champion Cleveland Indians hats and stuff. Are they all destroyed? If I looked hard enough, could I find a hat that said the Buffalo Bills actually WON a Super Bowl?

I don’t know about those other teams. This is a terrific question.

But no, there is no paraphernalia prepared for the Bills winning the Superbowl. Since the Smoking Man and his people pre-arrange for them to lose, they escape the production expenses of making the stuff.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

From my understanding (and this is from discussions from when the Braves first went to the Series) is that they make up enough for the players on the team and nothing more. Then they have the presses ready so that if the team wins they can start printing them. They will print all night just to have shirts, hats, etc. to be shipped to the retailers during the night and next morning so that when you go to the store they are there.

Usually Wal-Mart type stores will not have these initial batches, they go more to the specialty stores. Stores such as Wal-Mart will get later batches.

I would guess that if a team does not win, then they either let the team members keep the stuff or it is destroyed. Not sure about this part.

Obviously, there is more time to get a baseball or basketball teams stuff ready and you only start when they get to 3 games up or whatever one less than the number of games required to win. For example, now that the Braves are up 3-0 over the Mets, they have probably printed the NLCS champs shirts and hats for the Braves, but are likely holding out on the Mets.

Football is harder since it is just one game.


All I know is that in a local newsgroup (local to Raleigh area), the day after UCONN upset Duke in the NCAA hoops finals last year, someone was offering REALLY CHEAPLY, a bunch of shirts proclaiming Duke to be the champs.

I do not know if these were officially sanctioned or bootleg shirts, but at least someone made a batch prematurely.

Yer pal,

Wal-Mart will have their people in Sri Lanka print batches with both outcomes up at 3 cents a piece and ship 'em here on a really fast boat, flood the market with their usual garbage and laugh all the way to the bank.


Other than a handful to pass out in the locker room, I doubt anyone is going to go to the expense of printing the shirts until the final gun. What probably happens is that the shirts are designed and the plates ready. As soon as the game is official, they grab the correct mechanical and start running the presses. All the presses in the facility go to work, so they can have quantities available in a couple of hours. With overnight delivery, it will be in outlets the next morning.

Strtrkr777 sez:

This makes sense generally, but I have to guess that the size of the initial production run are a little larger. I purchased a hat and 20 tee-shirts celebrating the NY Rangers '94 Stanley Cup victory (Yes, 20. Leave me alone, it only happens once every 54 years.) immediately following the win (Did I mention that in 1994, THE NEW YORK RANGERS WON THE STANLEY CUP?). Likewise, people I know who have gone to the Superbowl have bought authorized (hologram, and all that) stuff on the way out of the stadium.

Do you know how many they print up, willing to burn or give away or sell to black-marketeers, when the championship comes close? Do they have printers in the basement, ready to go when the outcome becomes obvious?

And while we’re on the subject, who decides on the design? Is that a team thing, or a league thing, or what? Who decided on brown for my Rangers hat when the won the Cup? (Which they did, by the way, in 1994)

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

I’ve always wondered this too, I mean…even if they only printed up enough for each team, what happens to the stuff that would’ve gone to the losing team had they won? I assume they wouldn’t keep it, I mean it would only remind them of how badly they played. Who has all the caps and shirts that say “San Diego Padres: 1998 World Champs”? Has anyone checked eBay? And would they be worth more than the team that actually won, since there are bound to be far fewer of them?

Yes, they do manufacture a big supply of souvenirs for both outcomes of major sporting events. So there were crates of “Buffalo Bills - NFL Champions - Superbowl XXV” t-shirts waiting in the basement of Tampa Stadium in 1991 (sigh). However, by the terms of their licensing agreements the manufacturers cannot sell these “false” souvenirs. The cost of the manufacturing gets absorbed into overhead (after all you can absorb a lot of overhead into a twenty five dollar t-shirt) and the company dumps the merchandise either by recycling or donating it to overseas charities (and getting a tax break). So somewhere in the third world there are villagers who believe that the Bills won four consecutive Superbowls and are wearing the t-shirts to prove it.

Makes me with I was Brain Bead’s travel agent…

On a similar note:

My wife’s shop printed up the official stationery, envelopes, note pads, etc. for the 1996 Inaugural Committee. Within their logo are the names of the incoming (or recurring) President and Vice-President.

They printed up two complete sets: one said Clinton-Gore, the other Dole-Kemp.

They were ready the day before the 1996 election. The day after the election, when it was clear who won, the losers’ set was trashed (by the 96 IC).

Football fans in St. Louis will remember the city’s efforts to get an NFL expansion team in the early '90s. They had the team named, the uniforms designed and everything all set to go. Only thing was, the new franchises went to Carolina and Jacksonville.

The local news organizations had a field day with stories of the local company that had to destroy all the “Purple Stallion” merchandise they had already made up. The contract with NFL Licensing required that it be destroyed, not recycled.

OK, this is straying well OT, but I just have to add it…

Back in the mid-'70s, the San Diego Padres weren’t doing too well – lousy team, low attendance, etc. The Washington Senators had just left for Texas, and rumors were circulating that the Padres would be heading East. In spring 1974 or thereabouts, in the course of my normal, pre-pubescent baseball card collecting, I happened to acquire a couple of cards featuring Padre players that listed the team as “Washington ‘N.L.’” and had air-brushed the Padres logo off the cap and uniform. I only ever found two of them – most of my Padres cards had the regular name and logo.

I remember having Clarenca Gaston in both version, much to the amusement of my friends. Of course, I sold all my cards a few years later. Now I cannot walk into a card shop without thinking “Gee, I coulda owned a real nice house by now…”

Now, if the Padres had moved, would the N.L. have realigned the divisions into something a little more reasonable?

I still wear my “Tampa Bay Mariners” shirt with pride.

I feel more like I do now than I did when I got here.

I used to have a “1985 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals” t-shirt given to me by a “friend” from KC. So some of the stuff eventually makes it to market.

I’m sure I could get any t-shirt shop to knock off a hundred shirts proclaiming the Buffalo Sabres were four time Superbowl winners. But if it’s officially licensed memorabilia you’re looking for, these companies have to play by the rules (or risk losing their multi-million dollar exclusive contracts). Granted, there are undoubtedly a few of the souvenirs floating around. As I wrote before, some of the clothing is donated overseas and presumedly some of it makes its way back home. And I’m sure some of these things “fall off the truck” on the way out of the warehouse. But the point of the article I read on the subject was that official licensing souvenirs of “non-historical” sporting events are some of the rarest collectibles out there.

Well I guess there are some Mets NLCS t-shirts and caps that now need to be destroyed. Go to a third world country and you too might be able to get one of these valuable collector’s items.


Yes, StrTrkr777. And in a couple weeks, you can also see some Braves 1999 World Series Champs shirts there as well.

Jim Leyritz
Mark Wohlers

Go Yanks!

In a couple of weeks, Satan, we will be seeing 1999 World Series Braves shirts all over the place. Now the Yankees shirts will be destroyed if they ever even make them.

Take your pick:

Greg Maddux
Tom Glavine
John Smoltz
Kevin Millwood
John Rocker
Chipper Jones
Brian Jordan
Eddie Perez
I could go on but you get the idea I am sure.


A friend of mine and I have done some research on this and it does seem the loser shirts go to third world countries via UN aid and the like. Also, tons of these shirts are made up ahead of time so the money of the rapid fans can be taken immediately.

The reason we looked is dreams of an “Almost Winners” store that sold only the champion memorabilia for the losers. Being the longtime Cleveland Indians fan that I am, I have an urge to find this stuff. Of course things have been okay since '94, and I don;t have to watch Major League to watch them win the division and the pennant.

As long as my bottle opener is Y2K compliant, I’ll be okay.