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Matt Soniak
What Happens to the Losing Team’s Championship Shirts?
by Matt Soniak

The World Series is in full swing, and fans have all kinds of burning questions: will the Yankee bats wake up? What happens when the Phillies have to rely on their bullpen? And what becomes of the losing team’s pre-printed championship t-shirts? We can’t predict what will happen on the field, but Matt Soniak looked into the t-shirt question.

19-0After a big game in any sport, from a league championship to the World Series, Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, etc., people are going to be clamoring for commemorative merchandise. So it would make sense to have two sets printed up—declaring each team the winner.

The major sports leagues all produce official hats and shirts for the players and staff of each team in championship games—usually about 300 items per team. Manufacturers and retailers must produce enough product to meet fan demands. Based on the strong sales after the Chicago Bears’ 2007 NFC Championship win, Sports Authority printed more than 15,000 shirts proclaiming a Bears Super Bowl victory before the game even started. And then the Colts beat the Bears, 29-17.

That’s a lot of misprinted merch. Fortunately, there’s World Vision.

The international Christian humanitarian aid group works with Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA to collect misprinted merchandise and distribute it to people living in impoverished nations.

(MLB used to require the destruction of shirts and hats proclaiming the wrong champions, but two years ago they began donating their postseason apparel).

The merchandise doesn’t go to waste, people living in poverty receive new, clean clothes, and the clothing makers recoup some of their losses—they get tax credits for the charitable donations. Why don’t the clothes go to needy families in the United States? Overseas donation is part of the agreement between World Vision and the leagues. The farther away the clothing is, the less likely it is to offend a losing player (or heartbroken Buffalo Bills fan).

This question was asked by my girlfriend Erica during a recent Phillies game. If you have questions you’d like to see answered on mentalfloss.com, feel free ask them if you’re ever watching baseball at my house. Alternately, you can email me at flossymatt AT gmail DOT com, or contact me on Twitter.

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