Ranking Presidential Candidates’ Sports-Related Shopping Swag
Christmas is tomorrow, so if you’re like me you’ve given up on shopping. But if you’re not like me and you are looking for the perfect politically-charged gift to give that special sports fan in your life…you’ve come to the right place. I’ve ranked the sports-related swag of every major candidate.
Here’s how this works: I scoured the official websites of 49 GOP candidates and three Democratic candidates to find the absolute best/worst sports-themed items available in their campaign shops. Many (including front runners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton) didn’t have qualifying apparel, so they were excluded.
After finding the relevant items, I came up with three categories for commentary and scoring:
- Appearance: How does this thing look?
- Originality: Is this something unique to the candidate or otherwise unprecedented?
- Bang for the Buck: Is this a good value.
I graded each item on a 1-10 scale and recorded the tallies. So here we go, starting with the worst:
Marco Rubio Team Football Shirt [Link]
Oh wow. Ever try too hard, Rubio? Geez.
Appearance: 2 – This is an unmitigated disaster. Obviously, they wanted to do a lot with this ringer tee and I guess I applaud that effort? But the apostrophe in front of 16 on the back of a faux-jersey is inexcusable. I mean think about it…you use that so that people will know you are referring to a year. With no context, 16 might not seem like 2016. But “2016” is actually on the front of this shirt already. And nobody is mistaking “16” for a jersey number. This is bad. All bad. Faded font? Why? That football looks like it’s about to give birth too. Also, even the use of “Team Marco Rubio” is repetitive on a shirt that is clearly designed to look like a team-issued shirt. You don’t have to explain yourself, Marco.
Originality: 1 – Nothing original here. The faded-fond ringer tee has been a staple of American Eagle and American elections since the beginning of time.
Bang for Your Buck: 3 – There are better (and worse) deals out there. But this certainly isn’t a bargain. Even if you collect ugly t-shirts.
Total Score: 6
Bernie Sanders Baseball Shirt [Link]
Man, Bernie Sanders just gets young people. No doubt about it. This shirt screams voter turnout.
Appearance: 4 – You can’t mess up this t-shirt design. It is what it is. Print this thing absolutely blank and it’s a five. What I didn’t love was all the verbiage on the back. Nothing kills the trite, dependable, 3/4-sleeve baseball shirt quite like the words, “Join the Political Revolution Today.” There’s a time and a shirt for that slogan, but it ain’t here.
Originality: 1 – You have to give the guy something here. After all, I just complained about how he wasn’t true to form on the back of this shirt. So one point.
Bang for Your Buck: 5 – I’ve never bought one of these shirts, but I would assume they’d be slighlty more expensive than a t-shirt. So I’m thinking this is a completely reasonable price.
Total Score: 10
Autographed Rand Paul Baseball Jersey [Link]
I’ve got to say, Rand Paul’s swag shop kind of blew me a way. Absolutely insane collection of goods. He’s got everything from this attrocious Rand-branded mock turtleneck to Rand on a Stick. The only candidate that can give him a run for his money in terms of overall presentation, variety and uniqueness of the entire line of stuff is Hillary Clinton. I did not see that coming.
Appearance: 6 – Paul gets major credit for the fact this this jersey looks like a baseball jersey, but this has to be discounted to reflect the fact that…well…this is an actual baseball jersey. So Paul and his staff didn’t create this. Someone from the Quad City River Bandits (A single-A Astros affiliate) designed this. I’m also docking him points for the locale of his signature. Who doesn’t sign on the jersey number? Also, the fact that his name and number were screen-printed but the team logo is stitched raises some red flags. Further, I don’t love that he spelled the team name as “Riverbandits” on the site description and the team actually uses the two-word “River Bandit” branding. I’ve got to dock him for that so I did so here.
Originality: 9 – Look, there’s nothing original about a baseball jersey, but a baseball jersey as an item in a campaign store? That’s kind of unique—especially since this isn’t the generic colored-sleeve crap like Bernie uses. Paul also gets credit for advertising this as “worn by Rand Paul on August 1, 2015 at batting practice.” No other presidential candidate is selling game-worn items.
Bang for Your Buck: 1 – This is obviously a money-grab, but what’s hilarious is that no one here is grabbing. As the description says, “This is the one and only jersey he wore for the Riverbandits [sic] baseball batting practice where he knocked the ball out of the park.” Wait. He hit a homer un? I need that in the video. If this was a good value it would be gone already. Alas, it’s still sitting there with a hefty price tag of $1,000.
Total Score: 16
Jeb Bush Fight Club T-shirt [Link]
This is a stretch to include, but it had to be included. After all, one could argue that insane defenses of one’s father is the first sport any little boy ever even plays. Now, most boys abandon the “My dad is taller than your dad” shtick before running for President of the United States, but Jeb(!) is still ready to fight for this and fighting is a sport.
Appearance: 3 – This shirt looks like it was designed an a Pinterest board. Too many fonts, awkward spacing. No part of the aesthetic begs, “Who’s ready to get their ass kicked?”
Originality: 7 – At first glance, this seemed like an incredibly original idea. I mean who else is running for President on the platform of a family member. But then again, if elected Jeb would be the third Bush POTUS in the last five presidencies. Hillary would be the second Clinton in the past four presidencies. So then this seemed entirely un-unique. But then I swung the other way because of the name on this. No one else would, could or ever will market a “My Dad Tee” during a presidential campaign.
Bang for Your Buck: 5 – This is a tshirt. Based on the picture, it’s been packaged for a little too long and it’s going to be wrinkled. $25 is perfectly reasonable as a price.
Total Score: 15
Ben Carson Scrub Top [Link]
This is fantastic. Given Dr. B’s experience as a neurosurgeon and the upcoming release of Concussion, Carson is clearly in-touch with his sports-related branding and messaging.
Appearance: 8 – Does anybody really look great in scrubs? Probably not. But this definitely looks the way its intended to look. Only critique I really have is that I wish it said, “Dr. President.” Let’s see some confidence.
Originality: 10 – You. Can’t. Knock. This.
Bang for Your Buck: 8 – I have no clue what a scrub top would cost, but I thought this thing would be $50+. At $35 it’s super practical.
Total Score: 26
Ted Cruz Football Jersey [Link]
There are football jerseys and then there are football jerseys, and this is a football jersey.
Appearance: 9 – Would I personally wear this jersey? No. I can’t stand Ted Cruz and it looks like a clearly fake football jersey designed to support a fictitious Team USA. But still. Given what he had to work with, this is insanely sharp. Throw a Nike emblem on instead of the Eagle seal, and I could see a team wearing this for military appreciation week or something. This is impressive.
Originality: 9 – Again, we’ve seen football jerseys before. Marco Rubio showed us how not to do them. This level of craftsmanship and commitment, however, we have not seen. Fantastic.
Bang for Your Buck – 10 – I actually purchase football jerseys. They cost at least $100 a pop, and that’s with the scale of Nike/whoever makes the jersey. For this thing to be a complete custom job, $87 seems like a great deal.
Total Score: 28
So there you have it. Ted Cruz is your presidential sports swag champion. That is…until the Donald J. Trump Collection releases its presidential stock car racing suit.
That’s all I got/