How ​Jolly Pumpkin Carved ​Out a NIL Sponsorship Niche with College Athletes

In what may be a first​ for an American craft brewery​, Jolly Pumpkin’s brewpub located in East Lansing, Michigan — home of Michigan State University – has signed on to be a sponsor for a section of the Division I college football team. Due to the new Name, Image, and Likeness rules created (known as NIL) the brewpub​ is sponsoring the entire offensive line along with the team’s long snappers.

“I’m actually an alumnus of the school (both undergrad and grad programs) and the football team,” said Jolly Pumpkin CEO/CFO Tony Grant. “I also played both offensive line and long snapper back from 1998-2001. So the position groups are near and dear to my heart.”

​Now, there have been plenty of officially licensed craft beers made for a local college​, but Jolly Pumpkin is doing something different here. Grant explained that the entire depth chart of the Spartans’ offensive line along with the special team’s long snappers is included in the deal. The players will be able to ‘relax and refuel weekly after practice,’ it said in a release while Jolly Pumpkin will also host the group periodically, where guests will have the opportunity to interact and take photos with members of the team.

“It’s all the guys putting in the work — day in and day out — for those position groups,” Grant said. “The guys are brand ambassadors and we are making sure they are fed well. One thing I know well is us big guys love to eat.”

Grant said he has not heard of other breweries doing this​.

“Although I cannot say with certainty that this is an original idea as we have not scanned to see, I can tell you that it is a very genuine engagement from us,” Grant said.

Of course, some of the players on the team are not of legal drinking age and Grant said Jolly Pumpkin did its due diligence to make sure what they are doing is OK. Since the brewpub is a restaurant and feeding the players is a part of the deal, no underage drinking laws are being broken. And since it’s an entire group of players and not a single player being sponsored by a company that makes beer, it can pass as a sponsorship opportunity.

“We are not aware of and do not believe based on our due diligence that there are any restrictions whatsoever for us on how we are engaged here,” Grant said.

Michigan State senior center Matt Allen said in a release that the position groups are excited to be working with Tony and Jolly Pumpkin in East Lansing.

“They have such a cool brand and awesome food that we are all proud to be associated with,” he said. “It’s also really cool that Tony, being an alum of both position groups, is supporting us too!”

Jolly Pumpkin is a part of Northern United Brewing in Dexter, Michigan and has nine total brewpubs along with the production facility that also produced North Peak Brewing products.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *