The eleven counties currently making noise about seceding from Colorado to form their own state may not want anything to do with Denver's legal weed or gun control. But if you believe Facebook, there's one export from the Mile-High City that they're not ready to give up: the Denver Broncos.
In fact, every county in Colorado is said to be dominated by Broncos fans. Except one.
Earlier this year, Facebook's Data Science team used information culled from the roughly 35 million NFL fans active on the site to compile a map that charted out team allegiances throughout the United States, down to the county level. The resulting document, which Facebook called "one of the most comprehensive samples of sports fanship ever collected," confirmed some popular beliefs regarding football fans (no one likes the Jets) even as it revealed some surprises (northern Alaska and Hawaii are, interestingly, both Steelers territory).
While many western states sport checkered fan bases, Facebook's data shows that Coloradoans are remarkably loyal to their team. Out of the state's 64 counties, 63 are dominated by Broncos fans, including Weld, Cheyenne, Logan and the eight others that will vote on secession next week.
The only exception to the Bronco's near-monopoly: Hinsdale County, which leans toward the Cowboys.
Mountainous Hinsdale is the state's least densely populated county, home to just over 800 people, portions of four national forests, and a single incorporated town, Lake City. It's also where prospector-turned-cannibal Alferd Packer ate his traveling companions in 1874. (Which begs the question: Why aren't there more Packers fans there?)
So what's behind this stronghold of Dallas fandom in the heart of southwestern Colorado? According to one official, it boils down to simple demographics.
"Hinsdale County has many second home owners from Texas and residents that moved to Lake City from Texas," County Administrator Paula Davis wrote in an e-mail.
It seems likely that those Texan transplants may have unwittingly transformed Hinsdale into a kind of football Free State, swaying the county's overall allegiance toward Dallas.
Cowboys fans hoping to find a friendly watering hole are in luck: The Packer Saloon and Cannibal Grill in Lake City has several TVs for anyone interested in watching a game. On the other hand, if you're a Coloradoan in Hinsdale who's looking for an excuse to cheer for your state's team, you could hardly pick a better year to come back to the fold.
More from our Sports archive: "Top ten things we've learned so far about the 2013 Denver Broncos."
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