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NASCAR Wins One, Topps Pulls a Fast One and Tiffany Putts One

NASCAR Wins One on Monday

A U.S. District Judge might have denied NASCAR's request to stay an injunction that allowed the Cingular logo on Jeff Burton's car to be replaced with an AT&T logo, but NASCAR got a victory yesterday when Alltel agreed to a $25 billion private equity buyout.

Let's go back and put this in context for you. NASCAR obviously did not want the AT&T brand on the track because it wasn't one of the brands that were grandfathered in when the governing body signed a 10-year, $700 million deal with Nextel to be the official telecommunications company of NASCAR. But consolidation in this industry is very common -- Sprint soon bought Nextel and AT&T bought Cingular.

NASCAR is going to fight to get AT&T off Burton's car because it renders Sprint Nextel's exclusive deal basically valueless. Any future consolidation that would lead to another non-grandfathered in company that buys a grandfathered-in company would be a further disaster.

That's why the fact that two private investment firms have bought Alltel instead of a competitor like Verizon buying Alltel is a victory for NASCAR. If anything, perhaps the companies TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners will get out of the sport altogether, but at least it won't cause another logo controversy.

Topps Pulls a Fast One

I was reading my new edition of Beckett Basketball when I came across a couple pages in their card gallery that really caught my eye. It was autographed cards from the McDonald's All-American game.

The article said that the company had the players sign 50 cards each and that the cards would be placed into packs when they go into the NBA. It's an ingenious marketing strategy that allows Topps to take advantage of the value that one of their cards might have one day -- O.J. Mayo is the favorite from this lot.

Of course having them sign before their college eligibility means that they can't pay them, which is unfortunately by design. I have to give a big shame on you Topps for doing this.

Item We're not Buying Soon

The folks at Tiffany have come out with a putter. It costs $1,500 -- roughly what you could spend to get a custom set of clubs.

On The UMass/Kentucky Deal

Yesterday, I wrote about how absurd it was that the buyout to the Kentucky/UMass game was only $50,000 when the real value of canceling it was actually so much more. But apparently, I didn't know what I was talking about.

Someone I know, who is very familiar with the contracts, said that the buyouts are always low simply because the bigger school gets the benefit of a doubt in scheduling against a lesser school. I guess that's just the state of business.

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