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Sunday Bunch #7: Not Voiced by Scarlett Johansson

Eating Cheddar Bay Biscuits on a Monaco Superyacht

Welcome to Sunday Bunch. Thank you for subscribing and joining on your long weekend.

Outside of the brisket Ive been smoking overnight and the ice cream I made yesterday, I have few things on my mind:

  • A fitting punishment for Live Nation

  • The dawn of the influencer politician

  • Head transplant procedures and AI

  • How much it costs to move to Monaco

All this and more, lets crack it open

Blow It All Up

Karma came in hot this week.

First Live Nation and Ticketmaster: The Department of Justice and two dozen states sued to break the company up under antitrust laws. The first of many class action suits quickly followed.

Its not looking good when all of Americas most powerful political groupsthe federal government, California, New York, Texas, Florida and Taylor Swift fansall want to see you go down.

Of course, if everybody (including Bill) had Pearl Jams back 30 years ago, maybe we wouldnt be in this spot in the first place.

Barbara Kinney/National Archives

Next up was the NCAA who, along with the top five major athletic conferences, agreed on Thursday night to a $2.8 billion settlement of a class-action antitrust lawsuit by college athletes. The deal is stacked in favor of the Power 5 conferences (now four, RIP Pac-12), who will not have to pay anything resembling a fair share of the settlement, given their revenues relative to the rest of D-1 programs.

With the agreement, the NCAA commits to forming a new structure in which athletes will in theory finally get paid (and not just through NIL deals).

There are still more questions than answers about what comes next and the second-order consequences of the landmark agreement, but the student-athlete dam has broken open.

Big Shrimpin

By now youve probably heard that Red Lobsterdeclared bankruptcy this week. You might have even heard it was Endless Shrimps fault. Its much better than that.

In 2020, the Thai Union seafood empire became the primary shareholder of Red Lobster. Thai Union is a massive fishing conglomerate that also owns U.S. brands like Chicken of the Sea.

I wont go into all of the red flags that came early in the unholy Lobster Season union, but heres one choice anecdote to give you a sense of the new parent companys management approach:

Thai Union CEO Thiraphong Chansiri visited Red Lobsters headquarters in 2022 and toured restaurants around the country. He brought along a feng shui consultant named Angel. The consultant determined that executive offices in Orlando were bad Feng shui and no one should use them. The executive offices sat empty.

Red Lobster proceeded to get rid of all of its shrimp providers other than Thai Unions own subsidiaries, then subsequently launched the Endless Shrimp promotion that contributed to millions in losses but presumably drove a lot of business back to Thai Union. Vertical integration!

Let us recognize the only heroes in this story: the brave employees who put their lives on the line in the name of Endless Shrimp and barely lived to tell the tale:

Steve told me hes never been more disrespected in my life than by the Endless Shrimp patrons. My manager got spat in the face.

Josie, 19, who also asked to be anonymous, worked at a (now-shuttered) Kansas City Red Lobster, where she watched a solo diner take down 30 orders of fried shrimp within four hours.

You had groups coming in expecting to feed their whole family with one order of endless shrimp. I would get screamed at.

Signs of Intelligent Life

Anthropic who, for now at least is looking like the kinder, gentler AI player, announced progress infiguring out how AI works. Yeah, that seems like a good idea.

A viral video depicting a head transplant machineturned out to be fake, because obviously it was. Although as a meta commentary on society today, its actually one of the better things Ive watched this year.

Elons xAIwhich powers Grok, the AI chatbot on X (the company formerly known as Twitter, not to be confused with xAI) is nearing a new round of funding that would value the companyfounded in March 2023at $24 billion.

For those who havent had a chance to try Grok, heres a recent sample:

Sports Business Journal is reporting that ESPN, NBC, and Amazon will indeed be the NBAs broadcast partners starting in 2025, as I predicted two weeks ago.

While we wait for the official announcement, heres the oral history of NBCs original theme for the NBA, John Teshs Roundball Rock.

(For my encore, a moonshot prediction: Netflix takes the rights to All-Star Weekend, working with Silver & Co to make it an event again.)

38% of the webpages available in 2013are now offline1.

Atari and Intellivision finally squashed their beef.

Innovation at its finest: Scratch-and-sniff stamps from the La Poste (the French postal service) that smell like fresh baguette.

Meanwhile, in America:

I knew the headline: Disney launched the Star Wars Galactic Cruiser hotel at Disney World, it was absurdly expensive and it failed in under two years. I had no idea just how badly Disney Parks missed the mark.

YouTuber Jenny Nicholson visited the $1,200/night hotel and immersive experience before it closed and just dropped a hilarious four-hour video detailing all of the hilarious missteps. Its a beautiful case study in corporate hubris and the perils of short-changing R&D.

Only thing was missing was a Red Lobster.

This chef cautions that this next one can be challenging for some palates2.

@bstans27

Replying to @Maggie Birch Tomato soup x Guinness combo. Hope this is everything you wanted. Any more recommendations get them in the comme... See more

To wash that taste away, I give you the Miller Lite Big Green Kegg.

Just in time for peak cue season, this $350 komodo kegerator is the perfect grilling companion for the guy who has run out of Eggcessories to buy, but knows he needs something new to dominate the cul-de-sac this summer.

Order your Big Green Kegg this Tuesday at the Miller Lite Shop.

Bring Ya Ass to Monaco3

This morning, Formula 1 is holding the 70th Monaco Grand Prix.

Monaco by the Numbers

1929. The year the Monaco Grand Prix started.

38,100. The population of Monaco.

200,000.The population increase in Monaco during race weekends.

0.78. The total area of Monaco in square miles.

1.31. The total area of Central Park in square miles.

2.094. The length of the Monaco Grand Prix track, in miles.

78. The number of laps in the Monaco Grand Prix.

3. The most Monaco wins by an active driver (Lewis Hamilton).

6.Monaco Grand Prix wins by Ayrton Senna, the most in history.

33%. Percentage of Monacos population that are millionaires.

100%. The literacy rate in Monaco.

$300,000,000The cost of Brad Pitts upcoming F1 movie.

3. The number of Bond villains who call Monaco home.

$6,000. Cost/night at Hotel de Paris Monte Carlo on race weekend.

$5,500. The average ticket price for the Monaco Grand Prix.

$150,000. The cost for a spot in Monacos Port Hercules for a superyacht during the Grand Prix week.

55 - The number of superyachts docking in Monacos Port Hercules during the Grand Prix week.

$208,000,000 - The estimated value of the superyacht "Octopus".

1.3 - The number of football fields you could fit on the deck of the superyacht "Octopus".

Thats it for this week. Thank you for sticking around all the way to the end.

A few quick shout-outs before we part ways:

  • to my crew at We Are Social, who brought home mid-sized Agency of the Year at the Shorty Awards.

  • to Pablo, Jen, John and the team at Raw Materials, who were named Design Agency of the Year by D&AD.

  • to my old colleague Rasmus Wangelin and the design team at Spotify (and Dinamo) on the launch of Spotify Mix, their new custom typeface that will be used everywhere from the app itself to advertising, Wrapped, et al.

  • Happy birthday this week to Andre 3000 and Lenny Kravitz4.

A big thanks to Billy Chuck, Steve Caputo, Jason Nichols, and Freedom Jenkins for their contributions to this weeks edition.

Thank you again for reading. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend and a meaningful Memorial Day.

Cheers,
BUNCH

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Notes

1  - Pew Research, 2024.

2  - Some might also argue it makes the case for a nationwide TikTok ban.

3  - Cant make it to Monaco? Do like Chuck and bring ya ass to Minnesota instead. They could use the help after Lukas dagger on Friday night.

4  - Forget Paul Rudd, this man is 59 years old.

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