Mitchell and Ness makes throwback sports jerseys. And they [recently published the following map] with the top selling jerseys by state.
So many oddities here. The one that stands out the most to me is the Bo Jackson White Sox jersey leading the way in Arkansas. Because Arkansas has no pro teams it’s obvious that this is going to be a team from another state, but why Bo Jackson? He was born in Alabama and went to Auburn. And why the White Sox version? Kansas City is much closer and that would have even made more sense.
Walter Payton in South Dakota is another weird one. It’s not really surprising Payton is the top selling jersey in Illinois. Chicago is a Bears town, and way more people are buying Bears jerseys than Bulls these days. But why South Dakota? Payton was born and went to college in Mississippi.
Add on more strange Chicago ties with Ernie Banks being the top seller in New Mexico. This might be the hardest to explain. Like the previous two oddities, New Mexico has no major pro team, and it doesn’t seem like the place a lot of people retire to. So why Banks?
Kobe Bryant jerseys are remarkably popular. States like Oregon and Nevada are not huge shockers being so close to California and having just one pro team (the Trailblazers between them). But how in the heck is Kobe Bryant the top selling jersey in Wisconsin and Minnesota?!? The obvious guess in Wisconsin would be Brett Favre, but perhaps too many people have that jersey already. And there probably isn’t another former Packer popular enough to bring in lots of sales. The Bucks and Brewers perhaps don’t have a standout throwback either. But it seems crazy to think that it would be Kobe of all people. In Minnesota Kevin Garnett probably sold too many jerseys when he was there, and with Vikings Cris Carter is perhaps the only guy who would come close, and he might be too recent as well.
It doesn’t seem so crazy that some of these states have odd choices, it’s just surprising what the odd choices are. Wisconsin is thought of as such a football state, and Minnesota as a hockey one. So if Minnesota’s top jersey was Gretzky that wouldn’t be totally shocking. But for it to be someone like Kobe just goes to show how incredibly popular he is apparently. If I was someone from Wisconsin though I would be pretty embarrassed.
This data is no doubt skewed by the fact there is there is surely a “sweet spot”. Jerseys have become more and more popular over the last 20 years, and for the most part guys who played in the last 20 years probably sold a lot of jerseys when they played (Favre and Garnett are examples from above). And someone like Fran Tarkenton with the Vikings is probably too far back to be that popular, so something random like Kobe happens. Still very interesting data.