(Not sure why my picture I created above won't show up as the main picture... I hope people open it up and see it!)
With the announcement yesterday that Sprint-Nextel will be forced to lay-off 8,000 employees, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has come to the rescue.
CEO and President Lee Scott made the announcement Wednesday morning from the company's headquarters in Bentonville, AR.
"We see the economy around us failing, yet we see no difference," Scott said of the roughly $375 billion Wal-Mart made in 2007. "So as a friendly gesture, we have decided to buy-out the remaining years of Sprint-Nextel's contract as title sponsor of NASCAR's premier Series."
Sprint acquired entitlement rights in 2005 when it acquired Nextel.
The nation's third largest provider of wireless service provided a net loss of $326 million in the third quarter of 2008 and a $1.2 billion loss for the other three quarters.
"Labor reductions are always the most difficult action to take, but many companies are finding it necessary in this environment," chief executive officer Dan Hesse said in a press release. "Our commitment to quality will not change."
Wal-Mart, however, has managed to keep afloat during difficult times and continues to boast record sales.
While total numbers for 2008 are not yet available, during the third quarter of fiscal year 2009, the company had a net sales of $97.6 billion—an increase of 7.5 percent from $90.8 billion in the third quarter of fiscal year '08.
"We are very pleased with our results this quarter," said Scott. "Despite economic difficulties around the world, we achieved solid sales and earnings growth...At a time when our customer is feeling the pressure of a tough economy, Wal-Mart's price leadership is more important than ever."
Wal-Mart will take over entitlement with this year's Daytona 500 and will have exclusive rights to sell all NASCAR merchandise.
Reports indicate the deal was worth $75 million a year.
"It's great news for our customers and employees that we are making the venture into NASCAR," said Scott. "We have long wanted to jump into the quickest growing sport, and now with the struggles of our neighbors, we can do so."
Along with the entitlement, Wal-Mart becomes the Official Retailer of NASCAR.
"Our goal is to eventually take over the world," Scott said...He then looked nervously as he realized his microphone was still one. "I didn't mean that...What I meant was, we want to help the entire world during tough times."
Wal-Mart employs more than 2 million people throughout the world and more than 1.4 million in the United States.
The company operates stores in 14 different countries.
NASCAR CEO Brian France welcomed the news of Wal-Mart.
"Today, we thank Wal-Mart for bailing us out of a tough situation, just as the Federal Government has bailed out the failing bank industries," he said. "Sprint was in a bad spot, spending millions of dollars to have their name on our sport, while laying off 8,000 employees."
Although France had no intentions of letting Sprint out of their $75 million contract, when approached by Wal-Mart he agreed.
"Along with entitlement, all NASCAR officials will now be required to wear Wal-Mart approved vests during their work hours," France said.
Scott added that if sponsors continue to struggle, his company may be willing to put their logo on a few cars as well.
"Of course, if we are sponsoring the cars and the Series, we expect a little extra horsepower," he laughed.
With just a few weeks until the season kicks off, NASCAR will be scrambling to change all logos to the infamous Wal-Mart blue and yellow.
"It's going to be tough to have it all done," France said. "But we have people working around the clock to make sure it happens prior to the Budweiser Shootout next month."
Wal-Mart becomes the fourth title sponsor since 2000. Previously, the league was called the Winston Cup Series, before Nextel took over title-ship, and then Sprint in 2005.
"We know changes are tough for everyone, and it will take time to call it the Wal-Mart Cup Series, but the change was necessary to keep the sport we all love and cherish alive," France said.
The change is good news for Wal-Mart employees who will be able to purchase tickets half-price. The company will also reportedly have 5,000 tickets to each event to give-away to a store close to each track.
"We want to make sure fans are in the seats," Scott said. "It is our goal to ensure every track is packed full this year, we want the seats full, the hills full, the infield full...We want money...I mean people, coming in!"
Terms of the deal will entitle Wal-Mart the title-ship through 2012, with an option to extend at that time.
(While the entire story idea is obviously for fun, the statistics from Wal-Mart's third quarter and the quotes related to those actually came from WalMartFacts.com.)