What Was Burger King's King Doing At The Belmont Stakes?

Brand's Plan Is 'To Integrate Into Pop-Culture Moments That Transcend Sports'

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The King with trainer Bob Baffert
The King with trainer Bob Baffert Credit: Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Burger King

American Pharoah may have taken the Triple Crown this weekend, but Burger King was also a winner at the Belmont Stakes.

The chain's King character made an appearance at the race over the weekend, spending time with American Pharoah trainer Bob Baffert, who Sports Illustrated reported allowed the King into his box.

Per SI's Tim Layden: "Baffert ... made a deal to allow a man in a Burger King costume to stand in his box during the race. (Baffert told me after the Preakness that he had been offered $150,000 to let the Burger King man near him for that race; the Belmont brought an undisclosed payment.)"

A representative for Burger King did not respond to a question about much Burger King paid to have a presence with Mr. Baffert at the Belmont Stakes. Instead, the fast-feeder offered the following statement that sounded straight off a creative brief:

"The interesting thing with the King is how BK demonstrates a new paradigm of sports marketing -- and how the brand integrates into pop-culture moments that transcend sports. It's not just about attaching a logo to an event -- it's about creating a moment that gets talked about organically."

It stands to reason, then, that the King may be making more appearances in the future. At the beginning of this month, the chain launched an ad that features a cameo appearance by the character at the end of the spot -- the first since 2011.

This isn't the first time the King has made an appearance at a sporting event this year. Burger King last month reportedly paid $1 million to sponsor Floyd Mayweather in last month's boxing match against Manny Pacquiao. In exchange for a hefty price tag, the King escorted Mr. Mayweather.

The American Pharoah promotion, in any case, drums up less controversy than the Mayweather promotion did, since Mr. Mayweather had previously been convicted of domestic abuse.

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