Marble racing has gone mainstream! The sport received a major boost when the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” hosted by John Oliver featured “Jelle’s Marble Runs” on its latest episode.
“Even a couple weeks back, if you told me we’d be here, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Marble League announcer Greg Woods.
WGN profiled “Jelle’s Marble Runs” in late March when it started to gain traction as a pandemic-proof sport based in the Netherlands.
Oliver’s segment, which included a clip from our original WGN story, called the competitive marble racing league “fantastic,” and it morphed into marble mania.
“Just (Monday) alone we had gained 90,000 subscribers, which is pretty astounding,” Woods said.
On Sunday’s episode, Oliver revealed his show’s title sponsorship for this summer’s Marble League.
The winners of each event will get donations made in their team’s name to food banks, and the overall winner will get a $20,000 donation in their name to the International Rescue Committee.
“I think it puts extra pressure on the competitors. If their name can be on that donation, it makes them proud,” Woods said.
The broadcaster believes the bigger the bandwagon the better. Though some fans want to make clear they were along for the ride from the beginning.
“We are going to have a whole new fan base in addition to stalwarts who were hear before it was big on Oliver,” Woods noted. “Some are taking pride in that that they were here before all that. I love that passion of fans is fun and unique aspect of sport.”