Fact Check

Attempted Football Ticket Giveaway

A fan tries to give away tickets to a last-place football team's game and ends up with more than he started with.

Published Sep 14, 2007

Claim:   A fan tries to give away tickets to a last-place football team's game and ends up with more than he started with.



[Collected via e-mail, August 2007]

Here is a story that I have heard from time to time. A man has a couple tickets to a home game of a football team that is having a lousy season. (I have heard variously the Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, among others, but usually it is a professional American football team.) He tries to sell them, but doesn't get a nibble. He tries giving them away, but nobody will take them. Finally, the day before the game, he goes shopping, and places the tickets on his windshield in hopes that somebody will pick them up. He remains at the store (or visits several places) for a few hours to give the tickets more exposure. When he gets back to his car, though, he discovers that, not only has nobody taken the tickets, but someone left two more!

[Ducibella, 1998]

A man had a ticket to a recent home game. He parked his car and walked a mile to the stadium before he realized that he had left it on the dashboard of his car. Racing back, his worst fears were realized. Someone had seen the ticket, smashed his windshield — and left four more tickets next to his.


Origins: This legend about tickets to a woefully underperforming team's home game attracting even more tickets to that event rather than themselves being scooped up and made off with by grateful fans has been around for dogs' years. It has likely been told of every sports team to have experienced multi-year slumps because it so perfectly captures what lies deep in the hearts of many

loyal fans who have season after season shown up to support their teams only to once again be disappointed: at some point in the exercise, the desire to finally give up on the bums and stay home begins to make itself felt. This is the quintessential tale of disappointed fans finding a way to express their feelings — their teams are so bad that not only can't tickets to their games be given away, but the attempt to do so will only spark others who are equally as disappointed to fling theirs away too.

The second example above is an escalation of the basic legend: in that version of the tale, an anonymous disgruntled fan actually smashes in a car window so as to gain access to the seemingly rejected item for the purpose of leaving more tickets with it.

Oddly, at times this legend is manifested in non-sports versions too, as in the following example from 2011:

The drought of 1988 brought hard times to ranchers. The lack of water meant that feed was harder to come by — and it got worse when farmers decided they'd better reserve what water they could spare for human food rather than livestock feed.

The natural reaction was to sell some of their cattle — it's not good for the long run, but you have fewer cattle to feed and working capital to buy it with. The problem is that every rancher got this idea, and soon there was a glut on the market. It was a lovely thing for the average consumer, but as the suicide legend suggests, it wasn't quite so good for the ranchers.

One day, a clever rancher came up with a plan. He loaded several of his calves into a trailer, then parked it on the side of the road, with the ramp to the trailer helpfully propped up next to it. With such an easy setup, somebody was bound to steal those calves — and the insurance company would pay him what they were worth, which was considerably more than he'd get for them on the current market.

When he came back to check his trailer, there were two more calves in it than when he left.

While the "left tickets" story is usually told as a "This happened to someone else" yarn, every now and then a beleaguered fan who has for too long backed a dog will tell it as having happened to him. An Atlanta Falcons' fan regaled the audience of a call-in radio show in 1999 with his account of having once left four Falcons tickets under his car's windshield wiper and coming back to find "eight or 12 more." In 1998, another caller to a talk radio show said he'd once left two St. Louis Rams tickets he didn't need under his wiper blades, and when he got back after the game, five unused tickets had been added to the pile.

Barbara "fan clubbed" Mikkelson

Last updated:   7 October 2013


    Brady, Dave.   "When the 0-7 Saints Come Marching In, Comedians Parade Out As the Winners."

    The Washington Post.   24 October 1980   (p. E5).

    Ducibella, Jim.   "Fans Lament Sorry Skins."

    The Virginian-Pilot.   31 October 1998   (p. C1).

    Politi, Steve.   "Reversal of Fortune."

    The Star-Ledger.   30 August 2001   (Sports, p. 4).

    Sewell, Dan.   "Atlanta Slowly Warms to Surprising Falcons."

    Associated Press.   15 January 1999.

    Associated Press.   "Fans, Rams Frustrated with Performance."

      22 November 1998.

    The Big Book of Urban Legends.

    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 170).

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