This article was contributed by Matthew Carrico, Editorial Intern.

The esports industry has garnered substantial interest from various companies, non-profit organizations, and most notably at the collegiate level. There are even companies that have nothing to do with esports lining up to sponsor the growing industry. In 2021 alone, some of the biggest companies that have sponsored esports include Red Bull, Comcast Xfinity, Intel, Honda, Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, Coca-Cola, and even the U.S. Air Force. This amount of sponsorships are comparable to the various ads for companies we often see in the arenas/stadiums that house traditional sports.

It is no surprise that the growth of esports would garner attention and support from various miscellaneous companies and organizations. This continued support has helped the esports industry boom exponentially. Companies in the fast-food industry are starting to make a name for themselves in terms of esports. This article looks to highlight a variety of examples to show how various companies in this industry are helping esports grow.

Our first example is also a recent one, it is about a local fast-food company with its own dedicated esports team. Cincinnati-based burger chain Fisch’s Big Boy launched their own esports team back in April and has made massive gains in the name of the company. Team Fisch specializes in the first-person shooter Call of Duty as well as the popular building battle royale Fortnite. Team Fisch may be small with a membership of six players, but they have gone on to make massive strides by placing top 10 in recent tournaments such as GHML Gaming Call of Duty 2K Invitational and PlayVS’ College Fortnite tournament. They are currently battling their way through the Call of Duty World Championships and have announced plans to play Call of Duty: Warzone during the Brawl at the Bonfire in Las Vegas later this month on July 17. Check out this article by City Beats, to learn more about Fisch’s current plans for the team and the company. They will also be one of the restaurants to compete in Cincinnati’s annual burger week taking place between July 12-18.

The next story is about the renowned fried chicken chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and their call to hold their very own esports tournament centered around Call of Duty. Back in January of 2019, KFC held their own tournament taking place in the United Kingdom. The tournament played host to 16 teams with a prize pool of £50K (Or $63,700 USD). Another prize in this tournament came in the form of a KFC black card. This is an exclusive membership card that allows the holder to eat KFC food for free. The tournament would feature the battle royale mode Blackout with the goal of inflicting the most kills. The qualifier rounds took place between January 17 to February 16. The finals were held on February 24 with the player known as Spratt taking first place. It is amazing how a fast food restaurant would organize an esports tournament of this caliber. 

Our next story is about a fast food restaurant going on to sponsor a team. Back in November of 2017, fast-food company Jack in the Box announced an official sponsorship for Dallas Fuel, a team owned by Team Envy and one of 12 global teams to compete in the annual Overwatch Leagues. Jack in the Box would serve as the official jersey sponsor for the team as they would compete in the Overwatch League competition of December that year. Jack in the Box also announced future plans for the team including sponsoring the jerseys for Envy’s Call of Duty team and a series of joint promotional events. For its time, Jack in the Box was seen as one of the earliest adopters of esports and professional gaming. Mike Rufall, the CEO of Team Envy, praised and was thrilled about the partnership as it allowed the team to expand and grow to an even greater level. Safe to say, this support helps bring more acknowledgment to esports as a proper medium. Check out this article by QSR Magazine for more information on this story.

The final story we will be discussing involves arguably the biggest fast-food chain in the world McDonald’s in collaboration with the global esports organization Gen.G. Earlier this year, Gen.G announced a collaboration with Southern California McDonald’s locations in order to organize various esports initiatives focusing on major California cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs. The initiatives included a multi-week play-in tournament for McDonald’s employees only and a three-day NBA 2K21 All-Star tournament to determine the best young players in the Southern California area. For the multi-week tournaments, the McDonald’s Crew League was formed on January 12 to compete in games such as NBA 2K21, FIFA, Super Smash Bros., and Madden. The crew featured employees from 38 McDonald’s locations across Southern California. The overall goal of the program was to strengthen connections and pride among McDonald’s employees as a way to engage with current and future employees of McDonald’s. This demonstrates esports power to bring people together and build strong connections. The All-Stars tournament previously mentioned came in the form of the McDonald’s SoCal All-Stars and began on January 30. 

The very idea of esports and fast food coming together is an unusual concept to grasp. But as early as 2017, esports grew to a big enough level that major fast-food companies were willing to risk a little money in the growing industry. Starting small by sponsoring a popular esports team, as with the case of Jack in the Box, to outright having their own esports team that plays in national tournaments, as shown with Fisch’s Big Boy. The 4 years between this gap shows just how powerful the esports industry has become due to continued support. The fast-food industry has done many things to help support and profit from esports from sponsoring teams, showcasing their own tournaments, collaborating with various esports organizations for the benefit of the employees, and starting esports teams of their own. It is difficult to say what next fast-food company will be next to dive into the ring of esports or what other types of companies will do with esports.

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