BIRMINGHAM, Ala. In what has almost become a rite of passage for sports in America, the acquisition of a major beer sponsor marks a significant milestone. For bass fishing, this moment came during the 2002 CITGO BASS Masters Classic in Birmingham when BUSCH Beer announced it had signed a multiyear sponsorship agreement, becoming the "Official Beer of B.A.S.S."
"BUSCH Beer's sponsorship of B.A.S.S. is an exciting opportunity for the brand to reach many of our core consumers," said Kevin Levy of Anheuser-Busch Inc.
"Anheuser-Busch and the BUSCH brand have a long history of supporting conservation and the outdoors. By partnering with B.A.S.S. we'll be able to take that support to a new level."
In addition to becoming a presenting sponsor for the 2003 CITGO BASS Masters Classic, the CITGO BASSMASTER Tournament Trail, the 2003 CITGO B.A.S.S. Federation Championship and The CITGO BASSMASTERS weekly television show on ESPN2, BUSCH also introduced a more lucrative B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-Year program.
Unveiled to the national news media at a press conference during Classic Week, the program will award bonus money each season to the top 10 anglers in the points standings on the BASSMASTER Tour. From a total payout of $200,000, the BUSCH B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year will receive $100,000 cash, with the remainder of the money paid out as follows: second, $20,000; third, $15,000; fourth, $11,000; fifth, $10,000; sixth, $9,000; seventh, $8,000; ninth, $6,000; and 10th, $5,000.
In addition, after each of the first nine CITGO BASSMASTER Tour events, the points leader will receive a $1,000 bonus and be presented with a life jacket signifying his position atop the BUSCH B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-Year standings.
BUSCH pro, Denny Brauer, B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year in 1987, was on hand when the announcement was made. Based on his experience with BUSCH, Brauer remarked: Brace yourselves, it's going to be an exciting ride. With this company, things only get better."
Then Brauer turned to Davy Hite, the current B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year who was seated in the audience.
"Sorry, Davy, but timing is everything," quipped Brauer, in reference to Hite missing out on the BUSCH bonus this time around.
"Can I at least get a six-pack?" responded Hite from the audience.
Brewed by Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer and recycler of aluminum beverage cans, BUSCH was first introduced in 1955 as a regional brand in the Midwest. The brand quickly and steadily grew to become the largest selling beer in the subpremium category and is the sixth-best selling beer in the country.
"Partnerships with great brands like BUSCH Beer make it possible for B.A.S.S. to continue to encourage conservation of the outdoors while supporting the sport of fishing. We're looking forward to working closely with the brand in the years to come," remarked B.A.S.S. general manager, Dean Kessel.