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“You Dumb Yankee”- JRM Vice President Reveals How He Convinced Dale Earnhardt Into Risking $1 Million on Olympics Deal

Published 06/08/2023, 5:01 AM EDT

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Infamous for being aggressive on the track, Dale Earnhardt is one of the most popular drivers in the history of NASCAR. Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006, Earnhardt won 76 of the 676 Winston Cup races he competed in. Driving the iconic No.3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Earnhardt earned the nickname ‘The Man in Black’ and ‘The Intimidator’ due to his aggressive driving style. His ability to push the car beyond its limits allowed him to blow past competitors or push them out of his way. Amassing millions in wealth during his racing career, Dale Earnhardt Sr’s turned a lot of heads when he signed a deal with the Olympics in 1996. 

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Olympics and Dale Earnhardt’s Deal That Almost Didn’t Happen

The Senior Vice President of Business and Strategy at JR Motorsports, Joe Mattes, was the driving force behind the whole Olympic ordeal in 1996. With Earnhardt already being a 7 time champion by then, his team wanted to have the Olympics brand on the car. The idea was to promote the brand and then share the royalty.


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However, as one would imagine, this didn’t really happen that easily.


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In a recent episode of the ‘Dale Jr Download’ podcast, joining Mike Davis and Junior’s sister, Kelley Earnhardt, Mattes revealed that initially the people at the Olympics headquarters dismissed the idea.

They told him, as he quoted, “Here’s the deal, I don’t know where you’re from or how big you think Dale Earnhardt is? We’ve been around a little bit longer than Dale Earnhardt. And this is the Olympics and this is pay to play. Nobody sits in this office to do us a favor.”

This led Mattes to ask, “Okay, what is the cost to play?”

The price that the Olympics headquarters gave him a million dollars, in advance. Now, the only part Mattes feared was convincing Earnhardt to cough up a million dollars to seal the deal.

Remembering what Earnhardt told him after hearing the deal, he said, “You dumb Yankee! What the heck? I [Earnhardt] have to give a million bucks up front? No, that’s not going to happen.”

Although initially amused by the concept, it did not please Dale Earnhardt to learn that he would have to pay $1 million in advance. Mattes tried his best to convince The Intimidator, but to no avail.

Mattes then turned to Revell monogram for a way out.

How Dale Earnhardt’s Partnership With Revell Sealed the Olympics Deal?

Joe Mattes struck a deal with Revell to make the now coveted die-cast models for Earnhardt’s 1996 Olympics car. Having discussed sales projection, Mattes demanded an upfront check from Revell for $700 grand to pay to the Olympics; the remaining amount he would coax out of Dale Earnhardt Sr.


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Returning to Earnhardt, an ecstatic Mattes told the champion that he would only have to pay 300 grand and not $1 million. Dale Earnhardt was a tough nut to crack, but Joe Mattes convinced him to pay up the remaining amount.

With a combined million dollars from Revell and Earnhardt, the Olympic sponsorship came to fruition.


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Watch This Story: Denny Hamlin Defends Himself With A Controversial Dale Earnhardt Sr Clip Regarding His Involvement In Chase Elliott’s Suspension

Mattes discussed the deal with many, but the only person he feared to speak to was Teresa Earnhardt, wife of Dale Earnhardt, demanding Earnhardt to speak to his wife on the matter.



Naman Neeraj

241 articles

Naman Neeraj is a NASCAR Author at EssentiallySports. This Motorsports buff has completed his undergrad in English Literature and has now set out to make a name for himself in the journalism field. Although he is new to the scene, he has been following motorsports for over a decade.

Edited By: Ranvijay Singh