Doubt John Oliver at your peril, New York Yankees.
During last Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, the host and commentator announced that his show had purchased two seats in the premium Legends Club area behind home plate for the first three Yankees home games of the season and would sell those tickets to two lucky fans for 25 cents apiece.
What was the point? Oliver was taking issue with Yankees executive Lonn Trost saying that the team would no longer be accepting tickets printed from StubHub because those who paid premium prices for seats wouldn’t be comfortable sitting next to fans who have never sat in a premium location.
To call out the Yankees for clearly drawing a divide between presumably upper-crust fans and more working-class supporters, Oliver offered his tickets to a lucky winner on the condition that those fans dressed like they’ve “never sat in a premium location before.” Because those seats were going to be in prime TV visibility territory.
Sure enough, the two fans who scored those tickets from Oliver were right behind home plate during Monday’s home opener versus the Astros.
John Oliver should've bought more than two tickets per game. pic.twitter.com/LAsnGCXIWp
— joe lucia (@Joe_TOC) April 5, 2016
A victory for the average working fan who dresses like he or she is going to a sporting event! All right, most fans probably don’t dress up like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at a typical major league ballgame. But those outfits are surely what earned Joe Spillo and John Welch of Yorktown Heights those premium Legends Club seats. The stunt was easy to spot in the Yankee Stadium crowd, as you can see.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) April 6, 2016
According to ESPN’s Wallace Matthews, Yankees president Randy Levine said he wasn’t aware of Oliver’s segment and giveaway. But rather than lash out at the comedian and his fans, and continue to look like an elitist who prefers that high-roller supporters buy the best tickets to Yankees games, Levine appeared to have a sense of humor over the matter. Or maybe he wasn’t crazy about Trost’s remarks either.
“Everyone is welcome at Yankee Stadium,” Levine said. “And I thank John Oliver for buying Yankees tickets.”
After all, Oliver’s show did probably shell out $3,000 for those seats. So from a bottom line standpoint, the Yankees arguably won this round. But from a public relations and power to the people view, Oliver wins. He usually does. And if the Yankees have to comment on this further as more ridiculously dressed fans show up behind home plate, it will be a virtual bat-flip.
Will there be a follow-up to this on next Sunday’s Last Week Tonight? Maybe an interview with the fans who bought those tickets from Oliver? Probably not, since Oliver has made his point. But it would sure be fun.