🏎️ F1’s slow Vegas start

Friday, November 17, 2023 by Snacks
When you’re late to your Nobu resy (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

When you’re late to your Nobu resy (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

When you’re late to your Nobu resy (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

When you’re late to your Nobu resy (Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

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Hey Snackers,

Finally, the world knows Janet Yellen’s In-N-Out order: the US Treasury secretary got a “cheeseburger with fries & onions” before meeting Chinese President Xi at the San Francisco airport. World leaders… they’re just like us?

Stocks barely budged yesterday as investors received another sign that the US economy is cooling: jobless claims hit a three-month high. Energy companies slid as oil prices fell.

🧠 Mental workout: Burn a few brain calories before the big meal next week with our Snacks Seven quiz. An appetizer: what’s the next service Uber plans to roll out? Find out here.


1. F1’s Vegas race may’ve lost some grip before the start line

Slow roll… Formula 1’s Las Vegas Grand Prix got underway yesterday, kicking off a highly hyped weekend and F1’s third US stop of the year. Sin City’s been prepping to host the race since March ’22. Imagine: race cars in hotel lobbies, celeb-chef meal plans, and Sports Illustrated model parties. But ahead of the main event, on Saturday, there are signs it could be more Mater than Lightning McQueen.

  • Half off: This week tickets were selling for less than half what they were a month ago.

  • HotelTN: Last year, The Flamingo was charging $900 for a room during race weekend, but reportedly lowered that to as little as $35 for this Thursday (and ~$200 for Saturday). The Venetian has had rooms for ~$700, similar to other popular weekends.

  • Costly: Atlanta Braves owner Liberty Media, which bought F1 for $4.4B, said that startup costs could bite into profits more than it anticipated.

Life in the fast lane… Liberty’s sales and profit have climbed about 40% since it bought F1 in 2016. The US zoomed ahead to become F1’s fastest-growing market after Netflix’s hit docuseries “F1: Drive to Survive” premiered in 2019, and Liberty marketed the sport to younger demos. F1’s US TV ratings on ESPN hold the second-highest average on record, but… they’ve fallen 8% from last year, indicating F1’s peak in the States may be in the rearview mirror.


Don’t celebrate before the finish line… F1 may’ve overestimated its appeal by adding a third city to its American circuit (and giving the US the most races). And expecting US fans to pay for Monaco-level luxury may’ve been unrealistic. Enthusiasm for the racing may also be hampered by the colder weather expected this weekend (no poolside viewing) and low stakes: Vegas may end up being a victory lap for Max Verstappen, who won the season last month.

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2. Disney’s ESPN gets into sports betting, hoping its media might improves its odds

Disney’s making a bet… that a little bit of gambling won’t tarnish its family-friendly rep. This week, the House of Mouse launched its sports-betting service, ESPN Bet, in 17 states. It’s thanks to a 10-year, $1.5B deal with Penn Entertainment, which will operate the app. Penn’s counting on the ESPN name to pack a punch hard enough to dent DraftKings and FanDuel (which together hold 70% of the US’s sports-betting market).

  • Stay awhile: Fans checking scores on ESPN previously had to leave the platform to place bets. Now Disney and Penn see the odds favoring a future where ESPN Bet becomes a one-stop shop for streaming and betting.

  • New jerseys: ESPN Bet is a reskinned version of Penn’s Barstool Sportsbook app, which held just a 2% market share. The casino company sold Barstool back to founder Dave Portnoy six months after buying it.

  • Halftime: Since a SCOTUS ruling cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting five years ago, the industry has been running up the score. It’s now legal in 38 states and DC, and the $9B industry could hit ~$12B next year.

Epcot doesn’t have a casino… In 2019, Disney boss Bob Iger doubted the company would enter the sports-betting market (its reputation isn’t exactly the “gambling on UFC fights” vibe). Four years later, as sports betting has gone mainstream, and ESPN tumbles along with cable, the move perhaps seemed inevitable. ESPN may be late to the game, but there’s room in a market set to grow 60% by 2027 to $18B.


Home-field advantage is real… While ESPN didn’t have a betting app till now, it was the go-to sports network. Now it’ll have both the established-media reach and the betting side. ESPN had already successfully dipped its toes in: DraftKings and FanDuel have advertised extensively on the network, and ESPN’s betting show, “The Daily Wager,” has been a ratings hit.


3. The Crypto Catch-Up…

⚖️ Judgy… Celsius, the bankrupt crypto lender that imploded last year (regulators suggested it resembled a Ponzi scheme), intends to exit bankruptcy next year. Its court-approved plan would get former customers 67 to 85% of their holdings back.

🤹‍♀️ Quirky… Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and… Cool Cats? Next week’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will include balloons depicting two NFT characters (picture: blue cat, milk carton). Despite an October pop, NFT sales have dropped 98% from their peak.

🪙 Coins… Bitcoin’s price was negatively correlated to stocks over the past month, bucking a 2022 trend. Investors have argued that bitcoin could act as an inflation hedge or an investment that wouldn't move in lockstep with the market.

What else we’re Snackin’

  • PrimeRide: Hyundai is set to become the first automaker to sell cars on Amazon. Starting next year, shoppers can add a car to their Amazon cart. The traditional dealership model has waned since the pandemic.

  • Aisle: Walmart’s quarterly sales and profit grew more than expected thanks to groceries and ecomm. Still, the stock slid 8% after America’s largest retailer said consumer spending was starting to weaken. 

  • SwiftAway: First it was the Eras Tour, then a top-grossing movie, and now… a Tay-cation? A T. Swift-themed cruise is set to sail next year. Swift became a billionaire after a string of hits this year. 

  • Sumeet: President Biden said he and Chinese leader Xi made “important progress” during their meeting this week. The US and China plan to resume direct military comms, and China agreed to curb fentanyl production. 

  • BabOut: Shares of Alibaba (aka the Amazon of China) fell 9% after the tech titan ditched its plan to spin off its massive cloud biz, citing uncertainty from US curbs on exporting advanced chips to China.

Snack Fact of the Day

This year’s typical first-time homebuyer is 35 years old and earns $96K


  • Earnings expected from BJ’s Wholesale Club

Authors of this Snacks own bitcoin and shares of: Amazon, Disney, and Walmart

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