It’s that time of year for BYU football fans to gear up for BYU50, a time-based scavenger hunt set across the nation.
Fans across the country have competed against each other for the past five years to find a BYU football helmet hidden somewhere in their city for the past five years. BYU’s Athletic Department and volunteers post helmet location and times on BYU’s social media the day of the drop, and it’s up to BYU fans to figure out where the location is and arrive first to claim their prize.
The first BYU drop started with 25 boxes full of BYU gear like BYU t-shirts, flags and socks being dropped in cities throughout Utah. Sometimes the boxes even contained game or season tickets to BYU football games. Now, BYU fans participate in this nationwide competition, according to BYU Athletics Marketing and Promotions Director David Almodova. Multiple drops can take place in a state on their allotted drop date.
“It was such a popular thing we did after our first year that we started getting messages from our fans all over the country asking us to do a drop in their state because of the huge BYU fan population,” Almodova said. “We took the next year to plan it out, and it has been a huge success ever since.”
In years past, fans have sustained injuries, paddled across lakes to reach the helmet and even followed alumni members in charge of the drop. BYU alum Seth Killingbeck had a first-hand experience with this when he and his wife were in charge of the BYU50 drop in Tennessee.
“A couple of times I’ve noticed BYU fans stalking my house or office to follow me to the drop zone. In 2014, a friend of mine guessed that I might be the one hiding the BYU50 box, and I noticed his truck driving up and down my street waiting for me to leave the house,” Killingbeck said.
The average time for fans to reach the helmet is between three and seven minutes, which has left some fans disappointed. With this feedback, the BYU Athletics Marketing and Promotions Office decided to switch it up this year. “We want to give more people the possibility to win this year,” Almodova said.
BYU fans now have 20–30 minutes to get to the drop location and will be required to post a photo with the drop location flag in the background on their personal social media accounts using #BYU50. Winners for each city will be randomly selected that night via BYU’s social media.
“This will give more people an opportunity to win and not just the first person,” Almodova said.
The BYU50 event allows BYU to gain more exposure across the nation. According to BYU alum and BYU50 dropper for Houston, Texas, Elora Draper, the drop is a great way for non-BYU fans to learn about the school and its team.
“There were so many people wearing BYU gear and swag in one place, which I think is really cool,” Draper said. “There are people who have never heard of BYU who have stopped us and asked ‘Who are the Cougars?’ so BYU50 just gives the school extra exposure and gets people who wouldn’t normally hear about BYU talking about us.”
The first drop took place on July 13 in Alabama and the event will conclude on September 1 in Arizona. BYU50 will stop in Utah on Saturday, August 4.
Fans should keep an eye on BYU’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts to find their city’s drop location. If worse comes to worst, participants can look for the large group of fans wearing BYU gear to find the right place.