While we mourn the loss of one of the NBA’s greatest players it’s easy to reflect on his career in the NBA that spanned 20 years, all with the Los Angeles Lakers with whom he won five NBA Championships, but did you know that Kobe Bryant had a profound impact on the state of Idaho?  In fact, one of Idaho’s iconic marketing tools may have been long gone if it wasn’t for the late basketball star. 

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It was almost four years ago that the Idaho Potato Commission was considering retiring the Big Idaho Potato Truck.  The truck is 72 feet long and hauls a four-ton fiber glass replica potato all over the country to help promote potatoes as well as help charities Nationwide.  The Famous Idaho Potato Tour started in 2012 and four years later the commission wondered if the tour had run its course. 

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Meanwhile, Idaho Potato Commission spokesperson and ESPN sideline reporter Heather Cox, who NBA playercall “Spud,” was covering one of Kobe’s last games.  After the game, like any other Lakers game, Heather interviewed Kobe.  But it was a question that Kobe asked Heather that changed the minds of the commission.  He asked, “How long have you been working with Idaho potatoes?  Have they found the truck yet?” 

According to Fox News, it was in that moment, President and CEO Frank Muir decided that the truck and the giant potato had become part of American pop culture and that it would be a mistake to take the truck off the road as long as people wanted to see it.   

Thank you, Kobe Bryant for an amazing life in basketball that inspired the current stars of the NBA but also for saving the Famous Idaho Potato Tour!