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Tony Stewart’s Whopper of a Polygraph

By • Oct 22nd, 2009 • Category: Burger Blog

Burger King wrapped up a summer-long ad campaign this week by administering a polygraph test (commonly called a “lie detector test”) to NASCAR driver Tony Stewart.  The point?  To see if the BK spokesman really loves the Whopper cheeseburger as much as he claims in recent TV ads.


Anyone who has ever watched NASCAR knows that these guys are adept at pimping their sponsors, leading one to believe that they all really use the products whose logos are plastered on their race cars.  It’s easy to assume that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is a diehard Bud man (at least when he was sponsored by them), that you just might bump into Jimmie Johnson picking out a new toilet seat at your neighborhood Lowe’s, or that Mark Martin isn’t just a stud on the track but also a stud in the bedroom thanks to his endorsement deal with Viagra.


Some sponsor-driver relationships seem like a stretch (does anyone really believe that Darrell Waltrip has ever opened a box of Tide laundry detergent?), but the Tony Stewart-Burger King connection felt honest.  I mean, look at the guy:


It’s easy to imagine Stewart hitting the drive-thru for a flame-broiled bacon double cheeseburger.  Or three.  His nickname is “Smoke.”  But hooking up to a lie detector and being grilled live on the Internet about whether or not you “love” your major corporate sponsor’s flagship product is a bold move.


Stewart, seated in a starkly-lit cop-show interrogation-room setting, faced a slew of questions submitted by fans on a variety of topics.  Each Q-and-A was accompanied by “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”-esque sound effects and camera moves, as the machine measured microscopic changes in Tony’s blood pressure, skin conductance, and breathing.  A dramatic thumbs-up or thumbs-down from polygraph examiner John Grogan indicated whether or not Stewart had answered truthfully.  Some questions were silly, some were insightful, and some were a little more personal than Tony clearly wanted.

Do you sing in the shower? Yes.

Have you read a book in the last two years? No.

Have you ever done a donut on public property? Yes.

Have you ever cried after losing a race? Yes.

All were honest answers, according to Grogan.  But Tony tried to fake out the machine a few times:

Have you ever gone commando under your firesuit? No.

Can you walk past a mirror without checking yourself out? Yes.

Do you ever notice hot women in the stands during a race? Not really.

Grogan accused Stewart of lying each time.  “He’s a better driver than he is a liar,” he deadpanned.  Stewart admitted, “All right, maybe I do (check out hot women in the stands).  Maybe during a caution.”

When asked about his preferred way of having a Whopper, Tony answered, “without pickles and onions.” True.  Then, the real moment of truth.

“Tony Stewart, do you love the Whopper?” “Yes, I love the Whopper.”

Grogan gave the thumbs-up, a confetti cannon went off, and two buxom models wearing checker-flagged jumpsuits and celebratory sashes presented Smoke with a Whopper of his own.


No big surprise, I suppose.  No one expected this to go any way other than the King’s.  But it was a clever piece of marketing that BK got a lot of mileage out of.  And I guess for a job like that, there’s nobody better than a guy who goes full-speed for several hundred miles every weekend.

The hour-long polygraph test is currently being re-broadcast at the top of each hour here.  BK says you’ll be able to call it up on demand soon.

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