MANHATTAN — Kansas State has given away everything from pizza to stick-on beards at basketball games in recent years, but its latest promotion may be the most intriguing yet: free bacon.
On Friday, the first 1,000 K-State students who walk through the doors of Bramlage Coliseum with a valid student ID to watch the women’s basketball team take on Tennessee State in its season-opener will receive six slices of bacon in a paper tray.
The bacon promotion was announced with little fanfare, but it has gone viral in recent days. On Wednesday, ESPN shared the promotion across its multiple media platforms and Dan Patrick discussed the giveaway on his national radio show. It also received major play on social media.
The promotion has become so popular that K-State tripled its initial bacon order from 100 pounds to 300 pounds in order to meet demand.
“It has been a crazy last couple of days,” said Bethany Cordell, a graduate assistant in K-State’s fan experience and sales office. “We knew it would be well-received by our students, but we couldn’t imagine this much national attention. It is very exciting.”
How did K-State come up with the idea?
Randy Peterson, K-State’s sports information director for women’s basketball, offered a simple explanation: “Bacon is very popular.”
“We have tried free pizza in the past as well as several other student promotions,” Peterson said. “As you know, students can get pizza anywhere. But, as a student, you have to go out of your way to get your hands on some bacon. You have to go to Aggieville and order a bacon cheeseburger or go to IHop and order breakfast. We thought it would be a good idea to offer bacon at one of our games.”
Peterson said K-State originally kicked around the idea of a Thanksgiving feast later this month, but the only date that would have made sense for that was a Nov. 20 game against Wichita State, which overlaps with a volleyball match. The Wildcats wanted something that would boost attendance at a women’s basketball game without distracting attention away from any other home event.
Friday, especially with a men’s basketball game following the women’s opener, seemed like a better date for a giveaway.
Cordell said K-State’s promotions staff met with its student advisory board and asked what type of giveaways they would enjoy most. Food was the predominant answer. When someone tossed out the idea of bacon, it was well received.
That meeting occurred in August. The idea is about to become reality. It is already a success.