Taco Bell has a long tradition of giving away free food tied to the results of certain sporting events, like the World Series. But only weeks after pulling the plug on its 14-year free chalupa promo with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Bell angered Michigan State basketball fans by ending the deal that offered free tacos to everyone in the arena if the Spartans scored at least 70 points.
Mlive.com originally reported the to-do over the cancellation of the promotion, that had been going on since 2004 and had become a home game tradition for many MSU fans who started to get hungry when that score passed the 65-point mark. Just watch the above video from last season to see how pumped the crowd got as the score neared the “You’ve Got Tacos!” threshold.
The university’s athletic director said that the school tried to renew the deal with Taco Bell when it ran out, but the fast food chain “decided not to renew it, although it was a fan-favorite and something very positive and very popular.”
This led to the inevitable social media-based outrage from hungry fans whose MSU ticket stubs were now worth nothing more than the memory of a good basketball game and were a reminder of how they previously would have received free food.
In the wake of national media outlets picking up the story, the operator of 10 local Bells decided to reinstate the promotion without any official ties to the school.
Yesterday afternoon, Taco Bell HQ told Mlive.com:
“Our local franchisee is grateful for the passionate Taco Bell fans at Michigan State University and is exploring exciting new partnerships with MSU Athletics… As a thank you to fans, customers with an MSU basketball game ticket can still get a free taco at the locations below for the remainder of the season when the team scores at least 70 points.”
It’s like the scene in a cheesy sports movie where the guy who’d quit the college team because of some problem with his personal life shows up in the locker room just in time for the big game… or something.
There was no such fairy tale ending in Portland, where Blazers fans had their free chalupas replaced with a free Sausage McMuffin offer from McDonald’s. Just not quite the same…