×

Taco Bell Says I Got It All Wrong

Taco Bell
AP
Taco Bell

So last year, I gave Taco Bell credit for a promotion in which they'd finally have to pay off. After years of generating publicity on stunt worthy promotions that never gave anyone free food (minus the chalupa giveouts at NBA games), they came up with "Steal A Base, Steal A Taco."

If a player simply stole a base at the World Series last year, everyone in America would get a taco.

So Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox steals a base in Game 2 and Taco Bell gives away free tacos to America. When I found out Taco Bell had no insurance for the promotion, I tried to figure out exactly how many tacos they would give away.

I basically figured out that when you account for how many people would know a base was even stolen and how many people would remember to redeem their free taco a week later during business hours, they'd give away only 33,750 tacos.

After seeing that Taco Bell is doing the promotion again this year--they've added an hour to the redemption--I contacted Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch and asked him how off I was on my prediction last year. He told me that I was very off and that free Taco Bell, in fact, gave away millions of tacos.

I tried to do the math again and I just can't see how they ever entered the two million range, unless fans who remembered collected multiple tacos. I don't mean to call them liars, but the rules combined with the odds make it impossible to believe.

I can't imagine more than 20 percent of the entire country knows about the promotion (60 million people). What I didn't account for last year was that Taco Bell would advertise the fact that the event happened. So I said 30 percent of the country would have known the base was stolen. This year, I'm putting that percentage up to 50 percent. So we have 30 million people still in the pool to get their free taco, which has incidentally risen in price by 14 cents since last year.

    • One Stolen Base at the 2008 World Series Equals Millions of Free Tacos for America Taco Bell

Now here's where the number gets seriously thinned out. Let's say a base is stolen in tomorrow night's game. According to the rules, people will have to wait almost six days--until Tuesday, Oct. 28 to get their free taco. No matter how much Taco Bell advertises up until that day, I'd say only 40 percent (maximum) realize when it's time for redemption day. That narrows it down to 12 million people.

Then comes the killer. You have to collect your taco between the hours of 2 p. and 6 pm. I like the fact that they've added a non-working hour, but I can't see how more than 8 percent of the people who are aware of the free taco redemption--even with lower gas prices these days--would drive to get their free taco between those hours on a Tuesday. So, by giving Taco Bell every advantage, I come up with 960,000 tacos given away.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com