A sign from Rocco's Jello Shot Challenge.
Screenshot from YouTube (left), Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images (right)

The Jell-O Shot Challenge is a CWS Tradition That Also Predicts the Winner

Every year, thousands of fans flock to Omaha for the Men's College World Series. At Rocco's Pizza, a different battle is taking place.

Baseball — particularly the Men's College World Series has many traditions, but there's one that stands above the rest.

Every year, thousands of fans flock to Omaha to watch eight teams battle it out for a national championship. But arguably more important is another championship, one that is fought in the trenches behind the bar. It's become a must-follow event that every school's fans take the utmost pride in — one in which is hundreds of thousands of dollars (yes, really) are exchanged.

That's right, it's the Jello Shot Challenge at Rocco's Pizza.

What is the Rocco's Pizza Jello Shot Challenge?

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Rocco's Pizza & Cantina is a pizza restaurant located near the Men's College World Series venue, at 1302 Mike Fahey St. in Omaha, Nebraska. With more than 15,000 likes on Facebook, its description reads, "Home of the CWS Jello Shot Challenge!" The restaurant is right across the street from Charles Schwab Field.

The tradition dates back to 2016. It's exploded in the years since and is a must for fans visiting for the MCWS. It may be known as a pizza restaurant for 300-plus days a year, but during the Men's College World Series, it's a functioning frat house — as Jell-O shots become the main menu item.

The games on the field might be competitive, but fans of the teams also compete against one another in both their tolerance for alcohol indulgence and with their wallets.

Throughout the Men's College World Series, fans descend upon Rocco's, and the school that purchases the most $5 Jell-O shots is crowned the winner. Rocco's Pizza gifts the school a sizable donation.

The Winners Typically Do Well on the Field, Too

The winner of the challenge usually does well on the field.

Last year, it was Ole Miss who not only set the record with 18,777 shots but also won the Men's College World Series. Do shots equate to wins? Maybe. As you can see from the picture above, 31,215 total shots were distributed, which amounts to $140,467.50 — last year, it was $4.50 a shot.

Two years ago, Mississippi State fans bought the most - a mere 2,965 shots. The result in the series? A national championship.

This year, LSU has smashed the record. Tiger fans have purchased more than 24,000 as of late Tuesday night.

How did LSU pull this off? Well, dedication is one reason. And it helps that Todd Graves, founder of Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers and LSU fan, bought 6,000 shots at once to break the record. It helps to have a millionaire in your corner.

Can LSU win the same way Ole Miss did as the shots flowed endlessly? As of Wednesday, the Tigers are one of the last four teams standings, alongside Florida, Wake Forest and TCU.

Judging from the latest numbers, 42,732 shots have been sold in total. That's $213,660 worth sold in less than a week. That's not all profit, though.

So, Where Does All the Money Go?

Ole Miss celebrates their 2022 national championship by holding up a trophy.

Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

So, while fans on the restaurant floor (probably literally) are competing against one another, I'd argue that Rocco's Pizza has finessed them mightily for nearly $200,000. Sure, they donate some to the winning school — Ole Miss food banks received $37,500 last year — but they make enough in a few weeks to cover plenty of expenses.

This year, Rocco's manager Pat McEvoy has said all of the proceeds will go to the food banks for all eight teams and the Heartland Food Bank.

How Does Rocco's Make So Many Shots?

Considering tens of thousands of shots have been sold, it's natural to wonder how they're actually producing so many.

NOLA.com's Leah Vann got the scoop. They use what looks like a bigger version of a coffee Keurig that uses Jell-O pods instead of coffee pods. Liquor is then added by hand, and the machine takes care of the rest.

Good on Rocco's Pizza for finding their niche, sticking to it and reaping the rewards of their success. What a genius idea.

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