Ted Cruz Campaign Launches Star Wars Contest for App Users

Cruz campaign will give Star Wars tickets away to app users with highest points

ByABC News
December 14, 2015, 12:01 AM

— -- Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has publicly spoken of his love of "Star Wars," calling Han Solo the "coolest character in all of cinema." With the newest installment of the franchise arriving this weekend, the Cruz campaign hopes to spread the senator's love of the films to some lucky supporters.

Users of the Ted Cruz 2016 mobile phone app began receiving a notification over the weekend alerting them to a contest where those who earn the most points on the app between now and Dec. 15 will get tickets to see "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" on opening weekend.

"Ted is a huge fan of the entire saga, and we know many of you are too. So keep helping us get the message out for a chance to win a movie night on us!” reads the notification being sent to Cruz app users.

When asked by ABC News about his memories of "Star Wars" at a campaign stop in Bettendorf, Iowa, last month, the senator described waiting in line for hours with his dad to see the films.

"I grew up on 'Star Wars,'" Cruz told ABC News. "I collected all the 'Star Wars' action figures, I had them all in a Darth Vader carrying case and with my friends we would play and fight them back and forth. I had a giant millennium falcon."

In the 2016 presidential race, the use of mobile apps has been one way GOP candidates have sought to use the latest technology as part of their campaign strategy. Chris Wilson, the director of analytics and research for the Cruz campaign, said their app uses the latest technology to "create engagement for supporters, engagement for volunteers, engagement with donors so people can be involved no matter where they are and where they live."

For example, a supporter who wants to canvas for Cruz can open the app and see addresses in their town of potential Cruz supporters to visit. The app, which has nearly 27,000 users, seeks to "gamify" traditional campaign activities by giving users points every time they participate in activities.

"The way people earn points is by retweeting the senator to liking posts on Facebook or sharing them with their friends on the lower point level side," Wilson said. "On the upper end, higher points are given to motivate someone to contact their friends or to even go door to door."

In addition to his love of "Star Wars," Cruz has often talked about his love of playing video games. Wilson said the gamification component of the app reflects the presidential candidate it was made for.

"He does love to play games on his phone, loves competition and is very into technology. You take all those three things together and that shows why the app is such a good fit for the campaign," Wilson said.

The app also allows the campaign to tap into voter information to help build their databases and voter models. Each person who joins the app must submit personal information, such as their phone number, zip code, gender and age range. Every time a user opens the app, they're asked if the app can have permission to search their contacts.

The "Star Wars" contest will run until Tuesday, Dec. 15. There will be seven winners.

As for when the senator will see the newest "Star Wars" film himself, his campaign said that he is hoping to watch it over the holiday.

Cruz has previously told ABC News that the wisdom of "Star Wars" can be applied to the campaign trail.

"A message that I give to folks on the campaign trail sometimes they'll say we tried. And my response is straight out of Yoda -- 'There is no try. Do or do not,'" he said. "And likewise if someone does something very impressive, I'll turn to them just like Vader and say, 'The force is strong with this one.'"