(NEXSTAR) – Immediately after the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2022 Super Bowl, fans could buy merchandise to rep the new reigning champs. The same would have been true had the Bengals won: The NFL was prepared to sell “Super Bowl Champions” hats, sweatshirts, shirts and more, all emblazoned with the Bengals logo.
So what happens with all that pre-made apparel from the losing team? They don’t just get sent to the landfill or incinerated. The clothing has a second life somewhere far away from the team’s hometown, and getting there is quite the journey.
That process is managed by the nonprofit Good360, an organization that matches donations with local nonprofits around the world. This is Good360’s eighth year working with the NFL on repurposing merchandise not just from the Super Bowl losers, but also from the teams who lose the AFC and NFC Championship games, said chief development and marketing officer Shari Rudolph.
“This year, sadly for the Cincinnati Bengals, we will be gathering all the Bengals merchandise and bringing it to a central place in the U.S., which we don’t disclose because of the sensitivity and security needed around this donation,” explained Rudolph.
From there, Good360 works with its network of nonprofits to find a recipient.
“It could go anywhere from Africa, the Middle East, some regions in Asia or South America, but they all leave the U.S. and they are put in the hands of a nonprofit that has a verified need for those particular types of items,” Rudolph said.
The quantity of leftover Super Bowl apparel numbers in the “few thousands,” said Rudolph.
Rudolph couldn’t reveal where this batch of Bengals items will end up, but said a lot of thought goes into the clothings’ final destination. “For example, we wouldn’t want to send thousands of apparel items into a community that relies on textile manufacturing for jobs. We want to really be sensitive to that. We don’t want to put things into an area thats going to cause disruption or more issues.”
Rudolph said her nonprofit works to make sure the people who receive the NFL clothing items will put them to good use and protect the league’s brand. They don’t want the t-shirts and sweatshirts going to waste – or ending up in online auctions.
Once the recipient is confirmed, Good360 works to figure out what other needs that local nonprofit might need. They try and source those goods, too, so they can fill a full shipping container before sending it overseas.
She hoped Bengals fans could find some comfort in the fact that while they may not be able to have bragging rights with a Super Bowl champs t-shirt, someone will benefit from owning it.
“There is a little bit of a silver lining [for the losing team]. We get to take these goods somewhere we can find a good home for them and they don’t go to waste.”