A unique, perhaps controversial, promotion was held Thursday at the Florence Freedom game: Former Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o girlfriend bobble-head night.
If you remember, the linebacker was involved in a nationwide hoax in which he fell in love with a made-up girlfriend.
Only the first 1,000 fans to show up received one, and even though it's just an empty box, the buzz surrounding this promotion has been going on for months.
"An amazing gimmick. It's awesome. I love it," said Jim Wingate.
"It got me here, and I hadn't gotten to a game this year yet," said Charlie Martin.
"I'm probably going to hang on to it for a long time," added Will Foran.
Freedom General Manager Josh Anderson says while the Te'o hoax was taking the nation by storm, the team was about to order their shipment of bobblehead dolls for the season.
Anderson says they normally have many left over bobblehead boxes, which gave him an idea.
"I'll just call them Mante Te'o's girlfriend, and we'll hand them out as a promotion, and that led to this whole idea, and it's probably the most talked about empty box of all time," explained Anderson.
"It's still entertaining. It's still laughable. It's one of those things that it'll fade away but it won't go away," said Wingate.
On Thursday evening, the gag went even further with a section of the park reserved for fans with imaginary friends, a pretend kiss cam, an air guitar contest and an imaginary food fight.
"It's meant just to be a fun promotion and nothing more than that, and especially in January, we're trying to gear up for your season, sell some season tickets, sell some group outings. There's not a lot we can do to get attention in January," said Anderson.
Will Foran was one of a handful of Notre Dame students at the game Thursday, and says despite the controversy, it was a fun idea.
"I think all Notre Dame students pretty much think it's hilarious, and I think that everyone who goes to Notre Dame who isn't here right now is going to be sorry they didn't get one," said Foran.
"She's much shorter than I thought she'd be, but she's just as pretty as I always imagined," admired Martin.
For a list of all the freedom's promotions, visit this link: http://florencefreedom.com/promoschedule.php
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