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     The U.S. Mint's World Cup commemorative coin program was "a
flop" for the government and lost more than $5M -- "the first in
modern times to lose money," according to a report in this
morning's L.A. TIMES.  However, the program netted almost $9M for
the World Cup Organizing Committee.  Legislation authorized by
Congress and signed in 1992 by President Bush, permitted the U.S.
Mint to produce over 10M coins of legal tender celebrating the
1994 World Cup, but only 1.5M coins were sold.  The Federal
government was responsible for designing, manufacturing,
marketing, and distributing the coins -- and then paying the
World Cup a 25% royalty on any coins sold, essentially
guaranteeing a profit. "For example, an uncirculated World Cup
commemorative silver dollar sold for $28.  Included in the
purchase price was the surcharge payment of $7, which went to the
World Cup Organizing Committee."  Rep. Esteban Torres (D-CA), who
sponsored the legislation:  "Everyone wants to get into the
commemorative coin business for obvious reasons.  It's not so
much that members want to provide perks.  But they are besieged
by interest groups -- everyone comes at you."  This January,
Congress will launch a commemorative coin program for the 1996
Olympics (Julie Cart, LOS ANGELES TIMES, 11/3).
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