At RotoWire, we like to watch and play a lot of basketball. We also enjoy all that sports bars have to offer. So, naturally, we're all Pop-A-Shot fanatics, the classic sports bar vending machine game that challenges ballers to drain as many shots as possible within a short amount of time, usually with a beer in your hand.
When we heard the company not only still existed, but is going through a rebirth, we reached out to new owner Tony Stucker to learn more. Here's the results of our sports bar interview (without the clanging of beer mugs) –
RotoWire - I was giddy when I heard Pop-A-Shot not only still exists, but is going through a rebirth. What compelled you to buy the company?
Tony Stucker - I had spent the past 20+ years in advertising, most recently selling digital advertising, and I was ready for a change. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. I was on an online business buying site when I saw that Pop-A-Shot was for sale. I didn't even know there was an actual Pop-A-Shot company. But I pretty quickly decided this was what I was looking for.
RW - In my lifetime, I think I've won or lost about 80 beers over Pop-A-Shot wagers. Are you still selling Pop-A-Shots to sports bars?
TS - During the 80's and 90's, pretty much every basketball arcade game was a real Pop-A-Shot. But then competition entered the coin-operated world (the kinds you find in bars and arcades) and Pop-A-Shot stopped making those machines. For the past decade or so Pop-A-Shot has just made a Premium line of games that you'll find in homes, offices and at trade shows. But my goal is for Pop-A-Shot to once again make coin-op games (so future generations can also win and lose beer bets).
RW - Which current NBA player would you like to battle in Pop-A-Shot? I think I'd pick Isaiah Thomas or maybe DeAndre Jordan. Give us 3 beers each and I bet I can beat Jordan.
TS - The reach worries me with Jordan. I think if you'd played the double shot game against Carmelo Anthony you'd have trouble getting a shot off. Do you think if you played against James Harden he'd be looking for a foul on every shot? I might like to challenge Zaza Pachulia. I'm not sure that I could beat him, but he looks like a fun guy and I'd get to say "ZaZa" a lot (plus the shots you'd be throwing down would be vodka).
RW - We've been trying for years to get ZaZa to come to the RotoWire Holiday Party.
RW - Which retired NBA player would you like to play? For me, hands down, it's the gentle giant Gheorghe Muresan.
TS - Yeah, I think the big men would be fun. Could Manute Bol just lean in and drop it in the hoop? Would Dennis Rodman just go for your missed shots and not even bother shooting? Maybe there's the potential for an "NBA Legends Challenge." Sponsors?
RW - Can naked Pop-A-Shot enhance a marriage?
TS - I'm no longer legally allowed to give marital advice, but I don't see any reason why Pop-A-Shot couldn't be a part of a healthy relationship. I would recommend checking local and state laws first.
RW - Are Pop-A-Shots still made in the good ol' USA?
TS - Yes and no. We've started manufacturing a home model Pop-A-Shot in China. There's really no way to build a game for around $200 without going overseas. But the Pop-A-Shot Premium games are made in the US, with many suppliers the same ones in central Kansas that Pop-A-Shot has used for decades.
RW - How are Pop-A-Shot games different from other basketball arcade games?
TS - Pop-A-Shot Premium games are the only basketball arcade games made in the US. We use mostly local suppliers that we've worked with for years. And because Pop-A-Shot has been around so long, we know that our games will last.
RW - Where does Pop-A-Shot go from here?
TS - We just introduced our new Home Dual Shot. It's the first time Pop-A-Shot has made an introductory game for the home market. We're also making changes to our existing Premium games and adding double shot versions of them. We plan on doing more licensing deals next year, so you'll be able to get a Pop-A-Shot with your favorite college and pro team logos. And we hope to create a new coin-op game for bars and arcades, so you'll once again be able to wager beers on your Pop-A-Shot performance.
A big thanks to Tony for the interview. If you'd like your own Pop-A-Shot machine (it is the holidays, after all, you deserve this), please go here.