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posted on August 21st, 2019

Game on

Football season is upon us — and as the National Football League celebrates a whopping 100 years as a centerpiece of American sports culture, it’s time to get your 2019 tailgating playbook in order. As much as everyone loves the excitement of goal line stands and fourth-down Hail Marys, everyone knows the game day festivities are what makes football America’s favorite sport. To get in the spirit, Turo took a survey of 1,000 football fans in the US to find out what makes the most baller tailgate.

Truck it up

In order to tailgate like a pro, you do need a gate handy, so it’s no surprise that all of the preferred tailgating vehicles are pickup trucks. Far and away the most popular vehicle for a good, hearty, all-American tailgate is the Ford F-150, which earned 34% of the votes for the ultimate tailgating machine.

The next best vehicles for an admirable tailgate broke down like this:

  • Ford F-150 (34%)
  • Chevrolet Silverado (26.3%)
  • Toyota Tundra (14.3%)
  • Ram 1500 (14.1%)
  • Toyota Tacoma (11.3%)
Hasmik’s Ford F-150, Los Angeles, CA

Short pilgrimages 

Devotees of the pigskin are known to make the hallowed journey to their stadium of choice, but we wanted to know how far most were willing to travel to see their favorite teams play. It turns out an overwhelming 40.2% of people are not interested in traveling more than an hour — because, let’s face it, every minute on the road is a minute you’re not tailgating. 

But let’s not leave out those who will travel far and wide:

  • Up to 1 hour (40.2%)
  • Up to 2 hours (31.3%)
  • Up to 3 hours (13.9%)
  • Up to 4 hours (5.5%)
  • Up to 5 hours (1.8%)
  • 5 or more hours (7.3%)

Rock n’ roll all night long

Every party needs a soundtrack, and no tailgate is complete without the right tunes to get you fired up for the game. When it comes to setting the right mood, 43.5% of people say rock music is what brings the beating heart to their tailgate.

Rock, however, isn’t the only fuel for the party, and other fans like these genres too:

  • Rock (43.5%)
  • Country (24.3%)
  • Hip Hop (16.5%)
  • R&B (13.3%)
  • EDM (2.4%)
Reign’s Ford F-150, Phoenix, AZ

Show me the money

While there are diehard fans out there whose dedication is expressed in spending, 75.9% of Americans say they plan to cut back on on game-related travel and expenses this year, and have set a budget of $500 or less for the entire football season. 

That said, football games aren’t cheap, so some fans are looking at spending more:

  • Less than $500 (75.9%)
  • $500 – $1,500 (13.8%)
  • $1,500 – $2,500 (5.6%)
  • $2,500 – $5,000 (2.8%)
  • $5,000 – $10,000 (1.1%)
  • I plan on spending more than $10,000 on football season (0.8%)

Fancy feast

It should come as no surprise that when asked about the most important part of a tailgate, more than 80% of people said that it’s all about the eats. Honestly, what could possibly steal the show from the sizzle of a hot grill or a perfect plate of nachos? 

But food plays an even more important role in tailgating depending on age. For 25-34 year-olds, 79.9% are solidly there for the spread, it’s the only reason they got out of bed and put on clothes. Meanwhile, only 77% of people aged 35-44 and 66% of people aged 18-24, would say that food is the highlight of a tailgate. 

For a very small number of people, there’s more to a tailgate than what’s on the table:

  • Food (80.2%) 
  • The tailgating vehicle (12.3%)
  • Games (Corhole, ring toss, etc.) (7.5%)

It seems appropriate that the people most attracted to playing games at a tailgate are fans aged 18-24, among whom 18% are at least two times more interested in playing a game than any other age group.

Fire up the barbie

According to 38.5% of people, the most important accessory to make any vehicle an impressive tailgate prize is a full BBQ on board. Any great tailgate master knows that the grill is what makes the party smokin’.

However, these other red hot tailgate ride accessories aren’t too shabby either:

  • Full BBQ grill (38.5%)
  • Mini fridge in the trunk (28.1%)
  • Built-in Smart TV (21.7%)
  • Pull-out couch (11.7%)
Kyle’s Chevy Silverado, Boston, MA

Let your colors fly

Tailgating is about showing team spirit, and about half of the people surveyed have plans to add flair to their cars for football season. The majority, 21.9%, will be flying team flags, but these other ways to demonstrate unwavering fandom are popular too:

  • Team flags (21.9%)
  • Team decals (15.5%)
  • Branded seat covers (6.9%)
  • Car paint (4.8%)
  • I don’t plan to deck out my car (50.9%)

NFL celebrity guest

It’s every fan’s ultimate dream to add their favorite star player to the tailgate guest list. So who has the most powerful cult of personality in the NFL? With a whopping 42%, Tom Brady wins that contest easily, but any of these players would be sure to bring a high level of merriment to any tailgate:

  • Tom Brady (42%)
  • Aaron Rodgers (19%)
  • Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski (18.7%)
  • Antonio Brown (13.9%)
  • Baker Mayfield (6.4%)

The next best NFL guest

While 38.4% of men and 43.9% of women would love to have Tom Brady attend their tailgate, in the absence of the ultimate GOAT, men and women have slightly different ideas about who they’d invite next.

Women’s selections: 

  • Tom Brady (43.9%)
  • Aaron Rodgers (18.8%)
  • Antonio Brown (16.1%)
  • Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski (15.7%)
  • Baker Mayfield (5.5%)

Men’s selection:

  • Tom Brady (38.4%)
  • Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski (24.3%)
  • Aaron Rodgers (19.4%)
  • Antonio Brown (9.8%)
  • Baker Mayfield (8.1%)
Brien’s Toyota Tundra, Dallas, TX

Pros over scholars

Maybe it’s the star power, maybe it’s the end-zone dances, but most football fans, 70.4%, are way more fired up to watch NFL games, and only 29.6% would rather watch college ball.

  • Prefer NFL (70.4%)
  • Prefer college football (29.6%)

There are many ways to get hyped for football season, but it’s hard to beat the pulsing energy of a tailgate. Find the perfect vehicle to be the MVP of your next tailgate, and make the 2019 football season your finest yet.

Kamala Puligandla is a writer and an editorial assistant at Turo. She is always on the hunt for a strange story, a great snack, and the perfect outdoor spot to consume them.