View Full Version : How "The Draw" Works

09-04-2012, 03:34 PM
There seem to be a lot of questions about The Jack draw throughout the year, especially right before it. A lot of the questions seem to be about how you get into the draw, others about the rules of the draw, and some still about how the draw actually works. I think the first two have been covered fairly extensibly in this forum and other places (e.g. The Bullsheet), but the last is something that I haven’t seen described in much detail. Since I just attended a Jack Draw last week, I thought it might be informative and helpful to document how the process works so that there will be a better understanding into that “mystery.” Please remember when reading this that while I’m sure some aspects are the same from year to year, others change as the folks at The Jack refine the process. This may have been what I saw in 2012, but for years before and after that, it was or will be different.

I attended the draw at a building on the campus of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. In years past it was held in a public building, but there was a conflict this year, so it was moved. To attend you had to contact the folks at The Jack and request the ability to attend so that you could get through security, which was relatively easy if you were in the draw. Inside there were about 10 people there in an official capacity: those running the draw, The Jack’s marketing team, etc. There were also about 15-20 people not associated with the draw itself, but fans: Mostly teams in the draw, but there were also some Brown-Forman employees not part of The Jack, a CBJ friend of one of the officials, and a guy who neither competes nor judges, but has attended every Jack draw since 1990. There were soft drinks and light snacks on hand.

The draw began with a stern insistence that no one present report the results to social media and that mobile phones remain put away or off. We each had to read the prohibition aloud and agree to it, similar to a judges’ oath. Then there were introductions of the folks running it, as well as those closely involved. The marketing team unveiled the current year’s collectible posters, and the official “bung drawer” was introduced. Then a list of all of the all of the automatic invitees was read, along with their qualifications. I do not believe there were any automatics awarded for home state. If you were the only team from a state to win a GC, you went through the draw, potentially decreasing the number of teams. If I am incorrect on this, some one is free to correct me. Finally, they moved on to the draw itself.

Before I describe the draw, I thought it would be helpful to describe the preparations that go into it. I believe that a lot of thought has been invested to ensure that the process is relatively quick, smooth, and fair. Each team that is in the draw is assigned a number, and each bung has a corresponding number on it. If a team has five bungs, then all bungs for that team have the same number. The assignment appears to be relatively arbitrary, but is based, at least in part, on the number of bungs that you have in the draw. For instance, if a team has five total bungs in the draw, and there are five bungs with the number 42 on them, then they will try to assign that number to that team, and each of the bungs numbered 42 will have “(5)” written on it as well to keep track. As they come across missing numbers or don’t have enough of one quantity to satisfy a team, they will create a new number and copy it as many times as needed. When I attended the draw, the highest team number was 225, though there may have been a few numbers skipped. It’s interesting to note that while you might think you only need numbers 1-6, it’s possible to have 7, or even more bungs in the draw, because non-US grand championships do not count toward an automatic, so 6 US GCs and one Canadian would result in 7 bungs. Each team/number cross reference is maintained in a spreadsheet, and multiple copies are present for the draw, one sorted by team name, one by number, and likely more by GC state and home state.

The numbered bungs for each state are placed in paper bag with that state’s name on it. Some states, such as Texas and Missouri, have multiple bags. Some states’ bags are empty, and other states have no bags at all. I don’t think there’s a rhyme nor reason to when bags are empty vs. omitted. Going back, if Team 42 has 5 bungs, 3 in Missouri and 2 in Kansas, then there are 3 bungs with “42 (5)” in the Missouri bag(s) and 2 with “42 (5)” in the Kansas bag(s), along with all the other teams’ bungs for those states. Each of the bags is placed on a table in alphabetical order. There is a bucket with all of the state names (and Washington, DC) in it, a barrel for the actual draws, and a second bucket where un-drawn bungs get poured.

Back to the draw with all of this setup, one by one, a state’s name was pulled from the state bucket. If that state had a bag, and that bag had bungs, its contents were poured into the draw barrel. The barrel was then covered and shaken, and then one numbered bung was drawn out while looking away. Some one else looked up that number on a list and read aloud the team name and home state associated with that bung, then crossing off that number and home state. If a bung belonged to a team who had already been drawn, it was just said to pull another bung. That is to say, drawn teams’ bungs were not actually removed from the barrel, just not counted if drawn again. Once a bona-fide drawee was identified for a state, the contents of the draw barrel was poured into the second bucket, and a group of people organized those for future draws. This whole process was really quick and smooth considering how much had to be done. Kudos to forethought and prep work!

I did not see the details of the used bungs being organized, but what I believe happened was that two distinct sets of used bungs were maintained: One for drawn numbers, and another for not. The bungs were sorted numerically within each set, and duplicates were stacked on top of each other. The count of each bung number helped ensure that all were recovered, and the overall sorting process helped to make things fast and easy when it came time for home state and wildcard draws. After the GC draw, we took a 10 minute break and some details were fleshed out by the officiants. This is when states with only one home GC were determined to be automatics, and other states without a rep had bungs added to a bag for that state. Taking one numbered bung for each home team within that state, bags were refilled and placed back on the table. Again, some state bags were left empty. One bung for each team not an automatic home state rep and not in a home state draw were set aside in preparation of the wildcard draw.

After the break, the automatic home state reps were read aloud, and then the remaining home state draws occurred. In any order, each state’s bag was opened, and if it contained bungs, they were poured back into the draw barrel for a home state draw. The used bungs were reorganized as before in preparation of the wildcard. Finally, after the home state draws, one bung from each team not in already invited was placed back into the draw barrel and a single wildcard team was drawn and announced.

That was the end of the draw. After that, people socialized, asked questions, and eventually filtered out to go home. The folks from The Jack repeated their request not to publish the results as they wanted to do it officially. The whole process took less than 2 hours.


09-04-2012, 04:06 PM
Nice write up. Did they let the audience members pick the states and actual bungs, or was that handled by the designated "Bung drawer"? Last year when I was there, the audience got to participate. My wife blindly picked the state I had won a GC in and the guy next to us picked my team. Sounds like they may have changed that up.

Uncle Buds BBQ
09-04-2012, 04:47 PM
and a guy who neither competes nor judges, but has attended every Jack draw since 1990.
Wow...would love to hear his story!

Smokin Mike
09-04-2012, 05:04 PM
Thanks for the write up, I truly enjoyed it. :thumb: