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How Super Bowl championship hats get to stores in 12 hours or less

On Sunday night, as Super Bowl 2017 comes to an end, another decades old tradition will just be getting started.

While fans of the winning teams are celebrating (and long after some celebrations have ended), Lids -- the world's largest retailer of officially licensed and branded team hats -- will spend the wee hours of the morning getting Super Bowl championship hats to stores in the winning market and across the country.

"The product is made on demand when the game is finished," said John DeWaal, Vice President of Marketing for Lids. "The logistical part is the hardest."

It all begins when the last whistle is blown or maybe it a little earlier if the game is clearly a blowout, DeWaal said.

At New Era production facilities around the country, employees report to work to push the championship hats through the final stages of production. The hats are pre-made with the Super Bowl and NFL logos already embroidered on them. All they are missing is the identity of the winning team.

Soon, the completed hats begin rolling off the production line in waves and are prepped for shipping. Boxes will then be loaded onto planes bound for Atlanta or Boston depending on who wins the game.

"Hats go to the winning market first," DeWaal said of the first batch of championship caps. "We will have them in stores first thing in the morning. Sometimes we open a little early if the landlords allow us to," he said.

While the first shipment of hats is being unpacked and displayed on stores shelves, more hats are shipped in waves to other parts of the country throughout the night, ss long as the demand is there.

While DeWaal can't reveal the exact number of hats that will be on the production run for Super Bowl 2017, he says there will be tens of thousands of hats on the market by Monday morning.

"We are a leading hat retailer and we do everything we can to get the product to our stores as fast as possible," he said.

And they do it for every championship game, every year and every league.

The craziest run in recent memory was when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after 108 years, DeWaal said. Sometimes, unforeseen events -- weather or air traffic, to name a few -- can delay the process of getting hats to stores on time, but the company has several back up plans to make sure the merchandise is ready to go in the morning.

Fans who can manage a little delayed gratification can purchase an official hat online at right after the game ends and have it shipped or they can wait a few more hours and grab one at Lids, Lids boutiques inside Macy's or Locker Room stores.

"We do all we can to get hats into our stores first thing after every event," said DeWaal. "Hats is what we do and we take it seriously."

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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.