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WebBonus   | Summer 2012

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Winners Drink Milk—Former 500 Princess Rachel Demaree Has the Milk Mustache to Prove It

Rachel Demaree with classroom
As an Indianapolis 500 princess, Rachel Demaree championed the Winners Drink Milk campaign, taking a message of agriculture and nutrition to Indiana schoolchildren. Through her agricultural contacts she arranged for every student she visited to receive a pint of milk. In this photo, she and students at Sheridan Elementary School put on their milk mustaches and mug for the camera. (Photo courtesy Rachel Demaree)

Rachel Demaree
blogs
about Washington, D.C. happenings, Hill life and agriculture, among other topics.


May 29, 2012:
Over the weekend, I missed a major event in my home state. Monumental. An event that brings in the equivalent revenue of 3.5 Super Bowls. The greatest spectacle in racing. The Indianapolis 500.

Now, as a past Indianapolis 500 Festival princess, I have a very special connection to the race and the month-long celebration that is the 500 Festival. If you put the Cherry Blossom Festival on steroids it would almost be as big as the 500. Thirty-three cars going over 200 miles per hour. Whew, gives me chills just thinking about it!

As you can imagine, I didn't just let the title, crown, sash and glorious swag pass by without a little nod to my favorite industry when I was a princess. You see my favorite part of the 500 comes at the very end when the winner drinks (or as recent years, takes a shower in) a cold bottle of Indiana milk.

Once called the coolest award in sports by Sports Illustrated, the tradition of the winner drinking milk came about in 1936 after Louis Meyer won his second of three Indianapolis 500s. When in Victory Circle, he asked for a bottle of buttermilk. Note: I do not advise drinking buttermilk after any sort of physical activity, especially in hot weather. But he did it and lived to tell the tale. Chocolate milk, on the other hand, is a fantastic recovery drink.

As you can imagine, the dairy association was very excited about his request and jumped on marketing Winners Drink Milk. And so another 500 tradition was born.

Today, winners have the option of whole, 2 percent or skim milk but not chocolate. The milk is delivered to Victory Circle by head milkman Dave Forgey, a dairyman from Indiana. As reported prior to Sunday's race, winner Dario Franchitti had requested whole milk, while Marco Andretti, who placed 23rd, asked for 2 percent.

During my year as a 500 Festival princess, I chose to take this Winners Drink Milk message to schools and community organizations around Indiana. By creating a dairy bingo game and kid-friendly presentation about how milk gets from the cow to the cup, I was able to use my influence as a princess to share a positive message about nutrition and agriculture. I partnered with the Indiana Dairy Association, Kelsay Farms, and Beck's Hybrids so kids left with goodies like stickers, pamphlets, coloring books and pencils. And best of all, thanks to FFA connections with Dean's Foods, every one of the youth I visited received a pint of milk like a real winner (I, however, gave them the option of white or chocolate).

So you see, platforms can be fun and even delicious. And you can take things you really care about and use your exposure as a titleholder to make a difference. I've got lots of pictures of milk mustaches to prove it!

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