As soon as smart asses realized this year's Super Bowl would feature teams from the two states that have legalized recreational marijuana sales, the jokes started flying, with participants including The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, the nation's meme makers and entrepreneurs hoping to generate a little cash along with some laughs. Count among the latter Bryan Matthew, a co-founder of Denver-based StonerBowl.org, which is making T-shirts and more. However, the idea behind the site wasn't inspired by the first intoxicant that springs to mind.
A few days before the Broncos took on the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship on January 19, Matthew says he and some pals started "making some jokes over beers, probably too many beers," about the prospect of teams from legal-pot states reaching the Super Bowl. "Then we started writing some of the stuff down. And there was one person at the table with the foresight to ask, 'What if we put some of these on a T-shirt and sold them?'"
This question mobilized Matthew and the crew. On the Friday before the New England game, Matthew plunked down $44 to secure the StonerBowl.org address; someone in Texas already had dibs on StonerBowl.com. Then they got to work on graphics in case events broke their way -- which they did.
Fortunately for Matthew, he's got what he describes as "an almost two-decade background in nightclub and event promotion," and his associates' skills include marketing, sales and the use of social media as a hype tool. Through their assorted connections, they were able to launch the site by the middle of last week.
According to Matthew, the response "has been massive. We've received thousands of comments via social media so far, and all of them have been positive except one" -- a guy who didn't like the use of the word "stoner."
Not that the reaction has translated into untold riches. Matthew declines to talk specifics about sales, but he admits that "we're not making Jerry Seinfeld money. The jokes are spreading faster than the sales."
The StonerBowl.org yuksters aren't disappointed, though. "While it was our intention to be entrepreneurial, we didn't think we'd be able to buy new homes or cars." Besides, Matthews feels "the material will be relevant until the next Super Bowl. And we also feel as if the brand could be something we could sell at some point. If there's someone in the medical marijuana business who wants to quick-start their business with Twitter, Facebook and brand recognition that's already established, they might be interested."
Of course, the operation does carry some inherent risk -- especially in terms of a shirt featuring the NFL logo transformed with the letters "THC." Matthew reveals that "we consulted a lawyer, and he said something in a way that only a lawyer could -- he called it 'arguable parody.' But if anyone says they're not scared of the NFL, they should be. So if somebody from the league reaches out and says, 'You better stop doing that,' we'll abide by their request. We don't want to ruffle any feathers."
Well, maybe some Seahawk feathers. Matthew is a big Broncos fan and is pulling for Denver to win -- although he's enough of a businessman to have a plan for the opposite results. "We've got designs for after the game that say 'Seattle got smoked.' But we've also got some that say 'Denver got smoked,' too."
One more thing: Matthew doesn't partake in marijuana personally -- but he says some of the others behind StonerBowl.org "might say something different."
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More from our Lists & Weirdness archive: "Photos: Pot Bowl 2014 T-shirts that are absolutely Super."