INDIANAPOLIS (NewsNation) — Champagne celebrations usher in championships telling the world you’re the best, but the Indianapolis 500 tradition of winning holds one of the most unusual celebrations in all of sports — not a Gatorade bath or locker room party, you’re getting a bottle of milk.
It all started in 1936 when the cameras caught Louie Meyer drinking his daily dose of buttermilk after winning the race. His mother said it would help refresh him on a hot day.
From that point on, and seeing a marketing opportunity, milk executives encouraged Indy 500 winners to drink milk in Victory Lane. So now Indiana dairy farmers offer drivers whole, 2% or skim milk. But, of course, the lucky ones who have sipped away and poured it over their heads wouldn’t have it any other way.
Controversy hit the sacred celebration in 1993 when Emerson Fittipaldi shunned the milk in favor of orange juice to promote the Brazilian citrus industry. Fans took notice and booed him for years.
Milk — it does a champion good and to the victor goes the spoils, literally.
“You take a bath of milk and go for hours of interview, and it starts smelling,” said four-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves. “I just tell people, ‘I’m so sorry, but this is the smell of victory.’ That’s all I can say, and it’s true.”