How much does it cost to sponsor a college football bowl game?

The cost of sponsoring a bowl game varies widely different factors

The college football season is nearing its end, and fans across the country are tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete one last time in bowl games sponsored by an eclectic mix of companies.

Bowl game sponsorships offer companies the opportunity to promote their brand throughout a college football game, which typically lasts between three and four hours, in addition to running ads during commercial breaks of the TV broadcast and exposure through media coverage of teams in the buildup to kickoff. Sponsorship money goes to the broadcaster, who pays the bowl game for broadcast rights. The bowl game's organizers provide payouts to the competing teams and their respective conferences.

The cost of sponsoring a bowl game varies widely depending on the game, and exact figures typically are not made public. Still, some information has seeped into the public sphere over the years, and approximations can be made based on a bowl game's payout. 

Bo Nix Drake Maye Holiday Bowl 2022

Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix, left, and North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye will face off in what is expected to be a high-scoring Holiday Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. EST on FOX. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman, File / AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman, File / AP Newsroom)


Lower-tier bowl sponsorships for games played in early-to-mid December reportedly cost between $375,000 and $500,000 – an amount that allows smaller companies to get in on the action and build brand recognition. 

For the more prestigious games, like the New Year's Six bowls that occur around the turn of the year, sponsorships can cost tens of millions of dollars each year. When Capital One secured the sponsorship rights for the Orange Bowl in 2014, multiple media outlets reported the company paid $25 million annually. 

The larger the sponsorship, the larger the payout. The Rose Bowl, which earned the affectionate nickname "The Granddaddy of Them All" as the oldest bowl game, has reportedly paid out $40 million to each participating conference in recent years.


Idaho Potato Bowl Football

Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton juggles potatoes from the Idaho Potato Bowl trophy after the team's 41-27 victory over San Jose State in the Idaho Potato Bowl NCAA college football game, as bowl executive director Danielle Brazil watches, Tues (AP Photo/Steve Conner / AP Newsroom)

In some cases, the title sponsor can also play a prominent role in the post-game festivities of their bowl game, and their products may even be incorporated into the trophy itself. For example, the victorious head coaches in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the Duke's Mayo Bowl are doused with coolers filled with french fries and mayonnaise, respectively. Similar traditions have developed at the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl and the Cheez-It Bowl, both sponsored by brands of Kellogg's. 

It is relatively common for bowls to change their sponsors every few years. For example, the Independence Bowl became one of the first bowl games to have a title sponsor when it partnered with Poulan Weed-Eater in 1990. Since that sponsorship ended in 1997, the Independence Bowl has had eight title sponsors – including the hunting company Duck Commander – and is currently sponsored by directed energy firm Radiance Technologies.

A notable exception to that trend is the Peach Bowl, which has been sponsored by Chick-fil-A since 1997. This bowl season, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl became the longest continuously sponsored bowl game after the Outback Bowl rebranded under a new sponsor as the ReliaQuest Bowl.


Hawaii Bowl Football

Middle Tennessee defensive end Jordan Ferguson, #9, reacts after winning the MVP trophy at the Hawaii Bowl NCAA college football game against San Diego State, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia / AP Newsroom)

Aside from the title sponsor, bowl games often have additional sponsors for side events before the game. The Rose Bowl, presented by Prudential, is part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which features the Rose Parade, presented by Honda. Festivities leading up to the Rose Bowl include the Lawry's Beef Bowl, in which the two participating teams engage in a friendly and informal prime rib eating competition.

There is more to bowl games than the sponsorships, as they allow players, coaches and fans to travel to places they may not have been before while competing one last time before players and coaches head their separate ways. They often get to add to those lifelong memories with events during the week before the game after traveling to the bowl location when they are not at practice or a press conference.

For example, the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, which will pit the 15th-ranked Oregon Ducks against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Over the last week, the Ducks and Tar Heels have visited SeaWorld and went on a tour of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which is home-ported in San Diego.


Aside from enjoying the sights around the area before they faced off on the football field, the two teams went to the San Diego Food Bank to pack food boxes as a way to help those in need and thank the community for hosting them. That mixture of charitable events, sightseeing with practice, and game preparation is typical of bowl games.

Kickoff for this year's San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl is set for Wednesday, Dec. 28. 8:00 p.m. EST (5:00 p.m. PST) and will be broadcast on FOX. The game will be played at Petco Park, the home of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres.