OMAHA — The fiercest competition at the College World Series just might be the Jell-O shot challenge at Rocco’s Pizza and Cantina.
The restaurant, located at 13th and Mike Fahey streets just across from Charles Schwab Field, has been entertaining CWS fans for more than a decade. For the past six years, they have hosted some variation of the CWS Jell-O shot challenge: For every shot ordered, your team gets a point.
Last year, a record was set by Mississippi State: Fans ordered 2,965 Jell-O shots during the series.
On Sunday night — just three days in — that record was shattered by the University of Arkansas fans who had already consumed 50% more than all of last year’s series.
And by Monday afternoon, CWS fans had ordered a total of 11,130 Jell-O shots, a frozen mixture of Jell-O and vodka colored to match each team, at $4.50 a pop.
That’s more than $50,000 in revenue for Rocco’s— and there’s still at least six days left in the series. Patrons say that the competitive spirit is worth the steep price for a prepackaged Jell-O shot.
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“It’s absolutely genius marketing,” said Tyler Johnson, an Ole Miss fan from Jackson, Mississippi. “They’re making loads off of us — but everybody loves competition.”
This year, the competition is fierce. Arkansas is barely hanging on to its lead over Mississippi: At the latest count on Monday, Ole Miss netted 4,579 shots to Arkansas’ 4,644. No other team comes close to those numbers, with Texas A&M a distant third at 585 shots.
Big spenders buying hundreds of shots at a time have upped the ante this year. A representative from Banded Brands, a hunting gear brand based in Arkansas, bought 500 shots on Monday afternoon. In response, Tyler Jordan of Realtree, another hunting and camouflage brand, put 900 shots toward Mississippi’s total.
Determined not to be outdone, Banded Brands placed another order for 1,000 shots — $4,500 worth — within the hour. That led to many patrons on Monday night drinking for free.
“It’s definitely an all-time record here,” said Kevin Culjat, the owner of Rocco’s and the neighboring Lefty’s Bar. “It’s awesome. We have people trying to Venmo us, trying to call in orders, but we’re just too busy.”
Indeed, fans packed into Rocco’s like sardines on Monday, with a line nearly out the door to get to the bar and order shots ahead of the 6 p.m. game. The crowd was especially energized ahead of the matchup between Ole Miss and Arkansas.
“We might not win it all, but we’re definitely going to win this,” said Corey Garnette, an Arkansas fan from Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Fans can follow along with the latest numbers on the CWS Jello Shot Challenge Twitter account, which has amassed nearly 12,000 followers in less than two weeks.