Horse racing fans may have seen a familiar face at the 2018 Belmont, but it has been a while since we have seen the Burger King man. You may remember “The King” joined Bob Baffert in his box to watch American Pharoah complete the Triple Crown in 2015 at the Belmont. In an effort to keep things the same for good luck, Baffert invited The King back for the 2018 Belmont as the trainer tried to make history twice, this time with Justify.
Turns out there was a lot of money involved with the Burger King invitation in 2015. According to Newsweek, Burger King paid $200,000 in 2015 to have The King sit right behind Baffert. It would be no surprise if there were finances involved this time as well. Here’s how Newsweek described the 2015 agreement.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s the lesson for Burger King, whose offer of $150,000 to sneak their mascot into the most prestigious box in horse racing was denied. The second offer, $50,000 higher, was accepted.
The company spent a whooping $200,000 to get their mascot into the shot with American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert at the Belmont Stakes. Baffert was watching his horse win the Triple Crown just a few feet away from burger joint’s mascot the King. Baffert rejected Burger King’s first offer, $150,0000, for a spot next to him at the Preakness Stakes.
Knowing the businessman that Baffert is, something tells us that Burger Kings paid for the convenient advertisement this time around as well. According to Sports Illustrated, Burger King also paid $1 million to Floyd Mayweather to be part of his entourage on his walk to the ring when he faced Manny Pacquiao. The King has become the face of Burger King commercials as seen below.
Baffert donated the $200,000 to four equine charities in 2015. Sports Illustrated’s Tim Layden provided some context behind the Burger King idea after spending a day back in 2015 with the horse trainer.
Baffert took his seat and right behind him was a guy wearing a Burger King costume. Funny. After the Preakness, Baffert had told me that he turned down $150,000 to have the Burger King mascot stand next to him at Pimlico. Now here he was. I made eye contact with Baffert and he rolled his eyes toward the Burger King guy and smiled almost imperceptibly. “Took the money,” I thought. (On Sunday, Baffert texted me a photo of him and the King standing together with the message, “It’s good to be the king. LOL.” I found myself getting sick of Burger King and Monster and Draft Kings and Longines mucking up the Sport of Kings. But then again: Who cares? And there’s a cool ending. Baffert got $200,000 from Burger King and gave it to four equine charities.)
It looks like Burger King brought Baffert more luck (and probably a bit of money) this time around as well. Baffert won his second Triple Crown in three years thanks to Justify.
Here’s a look at some of the best photos and memes the internet had to offer after the (re)appearance of The King.