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Super Bowl’s big winner: Wings! Buffalo Wild Wings expected to sell 12 million

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Here’s a Super Bowl prediction that’s guaranteed to come true. Americans will eat millions of chicken wings while watching the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos on Sunday.

It’s become cliche to say that a big event is such and such’s Super Bowl. Election Day is the Super Bowl for political junkies. The Oscars show is the Super Bowl for movie fans.

But for Buffalo Wild Wings and Wingstop, the Super Bowl is literally their Super Bowl.

Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith told CNNMoney that she thinks the company will sell 12 million chicken wings on Sunday — up about 10% from last year.

And Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison is expecting that his company will sell 10 million wings, a 20% increase from Super Bowl XLIX. (The NFL has ditched the Roman numerals for this year’s golden anniversary. It’s just Super Bowl 50.)

Smith said Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year at its sports-themed restaurants. And she believes there will be particularly large crowds at locations in Denver and Charlotte.

But about half of the wings sold on Sunday will be for takeout — people hosting Super Bowl parties at home.

“People have been placing orders for weeks,” Smith said, adding that there will be plenty of wings available for customers who want to watch the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.

Wingstop, which has much smaller restaurants than Buffalo Wild Wings, will have an even busier day for takeout orders. Morrison said that on a typical day, about 75% of its sales are to go. On Super Bowl Sunday, that number should climb to more than 90%.

“It is the number one sales day for the year. So we start preparing early,” Morrison said while on the way to the Nasdaq in New York’s Time Square to ring the opening bell Friday morning.

But are the companies doing a big marketing push for the Super Bowl? Not really.

Wingstop used to have NFL Hall of Famer Troy AIkman as a spokesperson. Aikman also used to be on the company’s board and remains a shareholder in the company.

But Morrison said he didn’t think the company needs another celebrity touting its wings.

Buffalo Wild Wings also hasn’t done any major TV ads leading up to the Super Bowl, but Smith said that Buffalo Wild Wings has been promoting the big game on social media.

There’s a fun video (shot in 360 degrees) on its Facebook page featuring New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski in a wing-eating contest with his brothers Dan and Chris as well as a super fan.

Smith said Buffalo Wild Wings will soon start promoting the NCAA college basketball tournament with new TV spots. The first few days of March Madness are even bigger than the Super Bowl, Smith said.

The first quarter is a big one for sports — so earnings and sales should be pretty healthy for both Buffalo Wild Wings and Wingstop.

And both stocks have held up much better than the broader market so far this year. Buffalo Wild Wings — or B-Dub to its fans — is down just 4% in 2016. The stock surged nearly 8% Thursday following its latest earnings report.

Wingstop’s stock is actually up 4.5% this year. And shares are still nearly 25% higher than the price they went public at last June.

So Wall Street is clearly betting on a big Super Bowl bump for these two kings of wings in the first quarter.

Pizza companies are likely to cash in as well. Domino’s shares are up 2% this year.

But Papa John’s — one of the numerous companies that Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning endorses — is down 18%. Hmm.

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