If you have watched or listened to any baseball this year, you are well aware of Papa John's pizza. The Louisville-based pizza chain has become a major sponsor of many sports, including Major League Baseball, even running a national ad featuring our own Royals. Part of the sponsorship includes a discount for Royals fans. The day after any win where the Royals score five runs or more, fans ordering online can use the special promotion code to get 50% off any pizza.
You might be surprised to find out the Papa John’s discount is not the same in each market. While in Kansas City, it requires five runs - a difficult endeavor with their offense - AND a win, in other markets, the threshold for discount pizza is much lower. In Cleveland, the Indians simply need to score five runs - win or lose - to net discount pizza for northern Ohio. In Seattle, the threshold is even lower - four runs. And in St. Louis, all that is required to save your taste buds from awful St. Louis-style pizza is a Cardinals win. That’s it! All they have to do is win a game, something they did 100 times in 2015!
I have tried to compute which team cost Papa John’s the most discounted pizzas. Below is a list of each team participating in the Papa John’s discount and the requirement to get half off online orders. Next is the number of times each team hit that threshold this season.
Now a big discount in New York will affect a lot more pizzas than a discount in Kansas City. Papa John’s sells 350 million pizzas a year, roughly the population of the United States, so I used the television market of each team, calculated by Nate Silver, as a proxy for number of pizzas sold in each team’s market, then multiply that by the percentage of discount days to calendar days in the year.
In other words, Royals fans had 47 opportunities to get discounts this year, or 12.8% of the entire calendar year. If you multiply that by the estimated 4.1 million Papa John’s pizzas sold in the Kansas City area in a year, that gets you about half a million pizzas potentially discounted.
But of course, many people don’t use the discount. You have to do an online order, you have to know about the discount, you have to know the Royals won and scored five runs, you have to remember the discount code "ROYALS5", and you have to be hungry for Papa John’s pizza. I met all of these requirements several times, and we used the discount exactly once this year.
So let’s use a wild assumption and say just 1% of people will actually use the discount. Below is how many pizzas this would affect in each market, and what that cost would be to Papa John’s for 50% off a $16 pizza.
|Cleveland Indians||5 runs||87||5,760,772||1,373||$ 10,985|
|St Louis Cardinals||Win||86||7,502,913||1,768||$ 14,142|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Win||78||3,593,959||768||$ 6,144|
|Colorado Rockies||Win||75||4,532,396||931||$ 7,451|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Win||73||3,868,097||774||$ 6,189|
|Seattle Mariners||4 runs||72||8,145,144||1,607||$ 12,854|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Win||71||11,266,405||2,192||$ 17,532|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Win||69||5,371,744||1,015||$ 8,124|
|Chicago White Sox||5 runs||67||8,184,670||1,502||$ 12,019|
|Miami Marlins||5 runs||66||5,737,102||1,037||$ 8,299|
|San Diego Padres||5 runs||65||4,713,421||839||$ 6,715|
|Minnesota Twins||Win||59||5,239,711||847||$ 6,776|
|Baltimore Orioles||Win and 5 runs||57||6,996,070||1,093||$ 8,740|
|LA Dodgers||Win and 5 runs||54||13,908,965||2,058||$ 16,462|
|Kansas City Royals||Win and 5 runs||47||4,164,140||536||$ 4,290|
|New York Yankees||6 runs||46||21,933,814||2,764||$ 22,114|
|Tampa Bay Rays||6 runs||42||7,329,379||843||$ 6,747|
|Texas Rangers||7 runs||42||9,065,761||1,043||$ 8,345|
|Atlanta Braves||6 runs||42||15,623,999||1,798||$ 14,383|
|Washington Nationals||Win and 7 runs||40||10,317,452||1,131||$ 9,045|
|Houston Astros||Win on Tuesday||13||9,757,806||348||$ 2,780|
Apparently it is easier to get a Papa John's discount in Cleveland than it is to get fans to show up to games. The Indians netted Clevelanders 87 discounts, tops in the league just ahead of the Cardinals. Houston had a ridiculously difficult threshold, offering the discount only after Tuesday victories. The Yankees netted their fans just 46 discounts, but the sheer size of their market cost Papa John's more, although we can probably assume those numbers are even lower since New York has so many other great local pizza options.
Really though, it is much more likely Papa John's has made money off its sponsorship of Major League Baseball. Their commercials run ad infinitum (enough, Peyton Manning!) and their infiltration of popular media is so saturated that bored SB Nation writers with nothing to write about during the post-season are running analytics on their promotions. Enjoy your 50%, Royals fans, just know that other markets are getting a much better deal.