Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies fans may be pitted against each other as their teams battle in the 2007 World Series, but for a brief moment Thursday night, all of America was cheering for a stolen base.
The uniting factor? Tacos.
In the latest in a long tradition of sports promotions aimed at matching sports fans and brands, fast food giant Taco Bell promised free tacos to everybody in America if a base was stolen during the World Series.
Neither the Red Sox nor Rockies are particularly speedy teams, but the promo wasn't much of a gamble. There has been at least one stolen base in every World Series matchup since 1990. Now, thanks to Boston's rookie center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, whose second-base theft didn't even draw a throw, next week all of America will get to enjoy "Taco Tuesday."
The "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" deal by Taco Bell, part of Yum Brands Inc., will allow customers at any of the chain's participating 5,800 outlets to cash in on a free crunchy seasoned beef taco -- valued at 77 cents. Of course, with any free lunch, there's a catch: Customers may only collect on the promotion between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. local time.
It's a window that may benefit the Bell. "It might cost Taco Bell more if they did it between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.," one player in the Red Sox bullpen reportedly joked.
Win the Series, Get a Couch
Taco Bell isn't the only company with a promotion tied to the Fall Classic.
Thousands of Red Sox faithful stand to win millions of dollars in free furniture thanks to a promotion by a Boston-area furniture chain.
In March and April, when postseason baseball was just a dream, Jordan's Furniture ran a promotion offering full refunds to everyone who bought any sofa, dining room table, bed or mattress during a specific time period if the Red Sox win the World Series.
Nearly 30,000 people bought furniture, and now Jordan's might have to refund millions of dollars. The company won't say how much, but a conservative estimate by ABC News suggests the promotion could be worth $15 million in free furniture if the Red Sox come through.
"I've always been a Red Sox fan, lived in Boston my whole life," said Eliot Tatelman, president and CEO of Jordan's. "I said, 'what a great way to support the team, what a great way to tie ourselves in with the Red Sox and what a great way to get everybody rooting for the Red Sox and sell a lot of furniture.'"
So, with all that money on the line, you would think that Tatelman is rooting for the Colorado Rockies, right?
Jordan's — like most companies that run such promotions — has taken out prize indemnification insurance, which covers the payouts if the team wins the World Series.
"We're rooting for the Red Sox, too," Tatelman said.
Mark Gilmartin is president of Odds on Promotions, a Reno, Nev., company that underwrites such insurance policies. Though he didn't do a policy for Jordan's, the furniture store sought a quote from him.
Gilmartin would have insured the contest for 30 percent of the value of all the furniture given away. Using the conservative $15 million prize tally, that means the insurance would have cost Jordan's $4.5 million.
Whatever the cost, Tatelman said it was worth it. Not only did he get customers in the store, but they bought furniture. And a lot of what they purchased is not covered by the promotion.
If somebody bought a couch and a love seat, only the couch would be free. If they bought a dining room table, chairs and maybe some china to go with it, only the table would be free.
"The Red Sox winning a world championship, and free furniture — I mean, it doesn't get any better," Tatelman said.
Tanya Kerrigan, of Cohasset, Mass., is a Yankees fan from New York who married an ardent Red Sox fan.
"Born and Bred in Dorchester, Mass.," she told ABC News in an e-mail. "When my husband suggested we buy our couch at Jordan's and possibly benefit from a freebie if the Red Sox won, I said, 'Sure, we need the couch, but there isn't a snowballs chance in hell that the Red Sox will win the series.' Well there is only one thing that this Yankees fan is saying now: Let's go Red Sox."