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Why is there a Jimmy Kimmel bowl? History of LA Bowl game being renamed for late-night talk show host

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College football bowl season is known for the wacky, wild and weird. Fans are no strangers to strange bowl sponsors and the constant reshuffling of bowl names.

The Cheez-It Bowl has become such a staple that no one bats an eye, and we’re only a year or two away from the Duke’s Mayo Bowl postgame mayo shower becoming just another tradition.

Even so, no one would blame you for being caught off guard by the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. Yes, late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel holds the naming rights to a bowl game, and it’s one of the more prominent pre-Christmas bowls on the schedule.

This year’s Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl features Washington State and Fresno State in what figures to be an entertaining matchup of strong offenses.

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Here’s what you need to know about what brought Jimmy Kimmel and college football together.

Why is there a Jimmy Kimmel bowl?

Kimmel announced in July 2021 that he and the LA Bowl had agreed to a naming rights deal. Kimmel and SoFi Stadium entered into a “multi-year partnership” for the rights, though the exact length of the deal isn’t known.

Kimmel revealed the news on his late-night show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”  He said that the objective of the LA Bowl would be to “celebrate the legacy of college football of Los Angeles,” and he noted that, “as far as I know, I didn’t check,” the bowl is the first to be named after a living person.

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Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl history

Kimmel took over the naming rights of an existing bowl, but the game had never been played before 2021. The LA Bowl was set to debut in 2020, but it was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences signed tie-in agreements to participate in the LA Bowl in 2019. The Mountain West prevailed in the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, with Utah State defeating Oregon State 24-13 on Dec. 18, 2021.

Kimmel sought to keep the event lighthearted, and he delivered on that promise. He joined Oregon State’s marching band to play the clarinet before the game. He was on stage after the game to hand out the championship belt — not trophy — to Utah State.

Fresno State will be looking to build an LA Bowl legacy of its own against Washington State on Saturday.

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The LA Bowl was founded by StadCo LA, LLC, which owns SoFi Stadium. 

Where is the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl played?

As you might expect, the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl is played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

SoFi Stadium is home to the NFL’s Rams and Chargers, and the venue hosted Super Bowl 56 in February 2022. The stadium opened in 2020.

“Jimmy Kimmel Live!” is taped about 10 miles north of SoFi Stadium in Hollywood.


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