OMAHA, Neb. – A family-owned pizza joint in Omaha that struggled during the pandemic has made so much money from Arkansas and Ole Miss fans that it has decided to give back to the universities that brought it back from near pandemic death.
It all began with a Jello Shot Challenge issued by the store's owners that took off among Arkansas and Ole Miss fans on social media. What ensued was a battle currently led by Razorback fans that resulted in 16,345 Jello shots sold during the first three rounds of the College World Series and $73,552.50 in additional revenue on top of normal food and beverage sales.
On Wednesday morning, owners Kevin and Bonnie Culjat anounced a portion of their revenue that helped dig them out of the pandemic swoon should be paid forward.
"Being a small business that barely survived the pandemic, our family and staff cannot thank everyone enough for supporting Rocco's and Lefty's this year, especially when we know people are still struggling to get their lives back in order," the Culjats wrote in a release posted on the Jello Shot Challenge Twitter page. "Being blessed with the run we're having this year during the series, Rocco's and Lefty's would like to give back some of our good fortune to both universities whose fans are taking such good care of us."
The Culjats announced they will donate $2 of the proceeds from every Jello shot sold and that will be sold during the CWS to the Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Campus Food Pantry at the University of Arkansas and the Grove Food Pantry at Ole Miss regardless of which school sets the new record for shots purchased.
"The Jello Shot Challenge at Rocco's started as a unique idea to add another layer of fun for fans who attend the College World Series in Omaha," the release says. "Our staff and teams who have participated over the years have had a great time.
"However, this year we are experiencing something we never expected when we hung up a white board with eight teams written on it four years ago – the perfect storm of two great baseball schools full of tradition, awesome fan support, and a huge competitive spirit on and off the diamond."
That competitive spirit can be a bit over the top, as can be seen by the 1,000 shot purchases by Banded Brands hunting gear on behalf of Arkansas fans in the tweet below.
This purchase was in response to a purchase by Real Tree, also a hunting supply company, on behalf of Ole Miss to close the gap earlier in the day.
"This has truly been an amazing experience," the Culjats wrote. "Thank you and let's keep it going."
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