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By the Numbers: Thanksgiving-Themed Sports Events Keeping Planners in the Black Before Friday

15 Nov, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Thanksgiving is the day Americans typically stuff themselves with 3,000 calories and 229 fat grams worth of turkey, sides and pie.

Which is why, perhaps, so many of them see fit to head out beforehand for some kind of preventive strike. And that means savvy planners can have their own Black Friday Thursday. Just take a gander (see what we did there?) at these numbers:

961,882: That’s how many people Running USA reports as finishers of Turkey Trots (by far the most popular name of a Thanksgiving Day 5K in 2016

901,753: Finishers in 2015 (the number has been trending up each year since Running USA started compiling statistics in 2011)

726: The number of Thanksgiving races held in 2016 (an all-time high)

1,040: The number of races being held on Thanksgiving Day this year as of press time, according to Running In The USA (for comparison purposes, a typical Thursday has under 10)

50: Number of states were Turkey Trots (and similarly themed races) are held. Here’s a rundown from Runner’s World

46.9 Million: People who planned to travel for the holiday, according to WalletHub, and many of those will be looking for a way to stay healthy in the towns they’re visiting (so onsite registration for Turkey Trots is always appreciated.) After all, there are always these numbers:

46 Million: The estimated number of turkeys eaten in the U.S. (WalletHub)

7.6 Billion: Number of calories consumed by Americans at Thanksgiving every year, assuming all those turkeys eaten happened to be 170-calorie-per-serving Butterball turkeys (Wow, thank you, Washington Examiner)

10 hours, 41 minutes: Amount of time the average American male would have to run on a treadmill to burn off 4,500 calories. (This depressing statistic from WalletHub)

64: Percentage of Americans planning to consume alcohol with dinner, according to WalletHub. (So don’t blame the turkey for all those calories) 

So with that kind of participation and events being offered, 2017 is on track to break records. What other numbers can we expect to see? The National Retail Federation lets us know they’ll be buying:

3.6 to 4: Percentage increase of holiday retail sales in November and December

$678.75 billion: The expected total (up from $655.8 billion last year)

21.9: Percentage of sporting goods that was be sold during the holiday in 2016 (other forms of entertainment may be included in that figure)

$88,532: Amount sold in sporting goods and hobby equipment in 2016; the November/December sales for this category are $19,431. (And yes, of course, the sports event planning industry is hoping those sales translate into increased participation in events in 2018)

Another Thanksgiving tradition is football, with plenty of people choosing to watch sports rather than participate in them. US Sports History notes that while the NFL currently dominates football on Thanksgiving, when the tradition of playing on the holiday began, it was the college elevens, not pro, that controlled the day. The institutions and myths of both the Thanksgiving holiday and football helped usher in a partnership between the two, that has become as much an American tradition as, well, turkey. So here’s the last number of the day, this from Variety’s online magazine:

35.1 million: How many viewers the Thanksgiving 2016 Cowboys-Redskins game had, making it the most-watched regular season game on the Fox network.

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