Free appliances if Raiders shut out

More than $1 million worth of refrigerators, dishwashers and mattresses will be on the line again Monday night when the Denver Broncos play the Oakland Raiders.

For at least the last decade, the Appliance Factory, a network of 13 stores in Colorado, has offered customers who buy products from the stores in the week before the Raiders game their items free if the Broncos shut out the Black and Silver.

There have been some close calls over the years for the promotion, and Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski has played the role of near-spoiler. Janikowski kicked two early field goals, Oakland's only points of last year's game in Denver. And, if not for a Janikowski field goal in the 2004 and 2005 games played in Denver, the Raiders would have been shut out.

"We'd so love to give away what we sell," said Kevin Drako, the chief operating officer for the company, on Friday, "but Janikowski kicking in Denver is always a challenge."

Drako said the promotion was tied to the Raiders because of the natural Denver-Oakland rivalry of the past.

Though the Broncos have never been shut out by Oakland in Denver, the Appliance Factory does well from the stunt.

The company pays between $20,000 and $40,000 each year for insurance that will cover the cost should the Broncos come through. Premiums are based on projected sales during the week leading up to the game and how well the teams are playing at that point.

Appliance Factory says it expects to do between $1.2 million and $1.4 million worth of sales from Sunday to Sunday, when the promotion is running. Any item sold for between $399 and $3,000 is included in the promotion, which Drako said leads to a 45 percent increase in company-wide sales compared to an average week.

"We had a guy who heard about it who drove in from Nebraska," Drako recalled.

The last time the Raiders got shut out was in Week 7 of the 2011 season by the Chiefs, who also are the last team the Raiders themselves shut out (15-0 in Week 15 of last season).

It was the Chiefs who in 1999 shut out the Chargers while a local appliance store, Brandsmart, was running a shutout promotion. The company also had insurance and said it gave away more than $400,000 in products. It turned out the players knew exactly what they did.

Said the late Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas after that game: "I hope everyone enjoys their free big-screen TV on us."