Burger King reportedly shelled out $US200,000 to have it’s mascot appear with Bob Baffert, the trainer of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, at the Belmont Stakes.
The fast-food chain’s costumed “King” stood behind Baffert at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Baffert’s wife, Jill, told Time that the $US200,000 payment would be going to charities for post-career jockeys and racehorses.
This is the second time in the last month that Burger King has paid a ton of money to get its “King” in front of TV cameras at a major sporting event.
Last month, Burger King allegedly spent $US1 million to include its mascot in Floyd Mayweather’s entourage during his boxing match against Manny Pacquiao.
The “King” escorted Mayweather to the boxing ring ahead of the fight.
It was an expensive and controversial endorsement for the company.
Mayweather been convicted of domestic abuse two times and spent time in jail. He became such a lightning rod for criticism in the weeks leading up to the fight that some people were calling for a boycott of the event.
“Brands have, for the most part, stayed away from Mayweather over the years precisely because of his public image,” Fortune’s Daniel Roberts reports. “He has three times in a row topped the Fortunate 50, our Sports Illustrated/Fortune athlete earnings list — all with zero outside endorsement deals.”
Hundreds of people slammed Burger King on social media for standing with Mayweather.
So why would the company pay so much money for such a risky association?
In response to that question, a Burger King spokesman told Fortune, “We don’t call him the King for nothing,” referring to its mascot. The spokesman declined further comment.
According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, Burger King “got over a week’s worth of publicity, just by sticking their mascot in the background of a shot at a high profile sporting event,” AdWeek’s Lost Remote reports.
Buzz around Burger King increased 1,343% on May 3, the day of the fight, compared to the previous day, according to the firm.
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