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Pizza Hut's NCAA deal an airball

An offer of a $9 pizza if the longshot Wichita State team wins the tournament is no deal at all.

By Mitch Lipka Apr 3, 2013 2:22PM

This post comes from MSN Money contributor Mitch Lipka.


Fred Van Vleet #23 and Carl Hall #22 of the Wichita State Shockers celebrate after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 70-66 during the West Regional Final of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 30, 2013 in Los Angeles (© Jeff Gross/Getty Images)Pizza Hut, looking to connect its Wichita roots to the upstart Wichita State Shockers basketball team in a bid for attention, scored on publicity and committed a turnover on the offer.

The pizza chain is offering a deal to anyone who signs up for the Pizza Hut email list: a pizza for $9 if Wichita State wins the national championship. The $9 price riffs off the Shockers being a No. 9 seed in the tournament.

The thing is $9 isn't necessarily a deal at all. You can go on Pizza Hut's website today and get a two-topping large pizza for $7.99. So, should Wichita State go all the way, it would cost a dollar more than the price you could pay today for that pizza. What a deal!

To be fair to Pizza Hut, the final game of the tournament isn't scheduled to be played until Monday and the $7.99 deal runs only until Saturday. And, since the price applies to any of their pizzas, a company spokesman said, you can find one that you can run up the price on - like the Crazy Cheesy Crust Pizza (which starts at $12.99). So, best case scenario here, if longshot Wichita State wins, you could find a deal if you pick one the pricier pizzas on the menu and turn the deal into a winner.

"We think it’s a great way to honor and recognize the university where our founders got this great brand off the ground," Pizza Hut spokesman Doug Terfehr said.

While the odds are still long, Pizza Hut is at least offering a better deal to students -- a day of free pizza from a mobile unit a week after the tournament. Assuming free is free, and the 15,000 students enrolled at the school don't have to wait in line for hours, that's a lot better deal than the rest of us would get.

Pizza Hut is no stranger to attention-getting and sometimes controversial advertising gimmicks. At the start of the tournament, it boasted of giving away medium pizzas in the unlikely event all four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Final Four. Only one, Louisville, managed to make it that far.

During the presidential campaign, Pizza Hut offered a large pizza a week for 30 years (or a check for $15,600) to anyone who asked the presidential candidates during one of their debates this meaningful question: "Sausage or pepperoni?" A few days after the challenge was announced -- and after the company was roundly criticized for encouraging people to make a mockery of the presidential town hall-style debates -- Pizza Hut changed the deal, offering the prize instead to the winner of an online contest.

In the end, whether Wichita State wins or not, Pizza Hut succeeded in getting people talking about Pizza Hut. But whether consumers end up converting that into pizza purchases is another story.

More from MSN Money:
Apr 3, 2013 4:13PM
How about $1 if Louisville wins and $4 if Syracuse or Michigan wins?  
Apr 3, 2013 6:35PM
Pizza Hut is no longer a Wichita town business they ran off to Dallas so why do they care
Apr 3, 2013 5:41PM

Just bet $9 on the Shockers and take the odds. Then if they win, you can afford to  take all your loser friends to dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse.

Apr 4, 2013 12:01AM
Contrary to what some stereotyping internet comment-makers might think, people in Wichita do have cell phones and electricity and can make basic mathematical computations. Sorry Pizza Hut.
Apr 4, 2013 9:48AM
not gonna happen - they wont make it past LOUISVILLE!!!!!! GO CARDS!!!!!
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