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Why Does The Indy 500 Winner Pour Milk On Their Head?

The Indianapolis 500 is this Sunday, and no matter who wins, you can count on one thing happening: The winner will get a bottle of milk and pour it all over their head.

Indianapolis 500
Getty Images

But why do they do this year after year?

Now, if you’re a diehard racing fan, you might already know the story. If not, and you want to impress your friends this weekend, here’s a little history lesson for you.

According to the USA Today,  this tradition was started by Hall of Fame driver Louis Meyer in 1933. I guess he wasn’t a fan of champagne, so to cool himself off after a race, he would do what anyone would think about doing when they are hot and thirsty…drink milk.  When he won the Indy 500 for the second time, and he requested a glass of buttermilk.  Then, after winning for the third time in 1936, he was given a whole bottle after the race.

An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation caught him swigging from the bottle while holding up three fingers for his third win, and not realizing that he was drinking buttermilk, they thought it would be a good marketing move to present the winner with a bottle of milk every year…except between 1947 and 1955, for some reason, but every other year the race has happened, there has been milk served to the winner.

The American Dairy Association of Indiana has special “milk people” that get the milk and present it to the winner. Here’s the interesting thing about the milk: every year, they ask all of the drivers what type of milk they prefer if they were to win the event.



Unfortunately, they can not choose chocolate or strawberry milk; it has to be white.  What if they are lactose intolerant and can’t have milk? That’s a good question. They they can request lactose free milk. No matter the type of milk, you can pretty much guarantee that someone will be showering themselves with milk this Sunday in Victory Lane!


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