Charlotte and the Super Power Pachanga




The Super Bowl is a super power pachanga. There are over 25 million Hispanic NFL fans and Hispanic leaders from companies such as AT&T, CISCO, Comcast and 7-Eleven, which were out in force at Super Bowl 50. This year’s Super Bowl was watched on television at least in part by 167 million viewers and in total by an estimated audience of 11.4 million, including 4 million on livestreaming. There was an estimated $15.53 billion dollars in Super-Bowl related consumer spending in the U.S. This is compared to revenues of $9.17 billion dollars for all NFL teams combined. An estimated 1.1 million people attended Super-Bowl related events in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, and Santa Clara with direct visitor spending totaling $220 million.

Here are some of the people I crossed paths with in Charlotte for the NFC Championship and in the Bay Area for the Super Bowl.

Marcos Castro is an engineer with Charlotte-based H Scott Motorsports, which competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Marcos, who grew up in the DFW area, is the son of noted Hispanic business leader Garry Castro, the owner and CEO of Logisticorp. Growing up, Marcos’ dream was to work on a NASCAR team as an engineer. He worked as a mechanic to get experience and went to community college for a couple of years. He then transferred to the UNC Charlotte and earned his Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Marcos did a series of internships and held several part-time jobs – all focused on NASCAR. Finally through a fellow UNC alum, he got on a NASCAR team and has since advanced rapidly over the past three years to position as engineer with H Scott Motorsports.

Gerry Lopez is one of a handful of Hispanic corporate CEO’s in the U.S. In mid-2015 Gerry left AMC Theaters to become CEO of Extended Stay America, which is headquartered in Charlotte and is traded on the NYSE (STAY). With 629 hotels and over 60,000 rooms, ESA is one of the leading brands in the long-stay lodging sector. Extended Stay America has annual revenues of $1.3 billion and a market cap of $2.22 billion. Gerry also serves on the board of directors of Brinker International (NYSE: EAT) and was recently elected to the board of directors of CBRE Group (NYSE: CBG), which has annual revenues of over $9 billion and a market cap of $12.9 billion.

Ron Rivera is the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. He has been named NFL coach of the year two of the past three seasons. Coach Rivera’s dad is from Bayamon, Puerto Rico and his mom is from Chihuahua, Mexico. A three-sport standout at Seaside High School in Seaside, California, Rivera went on to earn all-American honors at Cal Berkley, a successful nine-year pro football career with Chicago Bears, and then on to coaching in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Charlotte. He completed his fifth season as head coach of the Panthers, going 17-2 and winning the NFC Championship. Although the Panthers lost to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, with Rivera’s intense focus on attitude, preparation, and effort – it won’t be a surprise if the Panthers are back competing in the Super Bowl again next year.

Miguel Vargas is director of entertainment of the Carolina Panthers. Miguel is responsible for the fan experience, which encompasses everything but the game itself. Whether before, during, or after the game, Miguel’s work is integral to the fan experience. His focus is on firing up the crowd and on creating home field advantage for the Panthers.

Jaime Moreno and Luis Moreno, Jr. are the Spanish language broadcasters for the Carolina Panthers. The Super Bowl was the 110th game they broadcasted. Jaime and Luis have brought an intense passion and an element of Hispanic culture to the Panthers. The Morenos are also a cross-cultural phenomenon. Everyone from my Uber driver to a community leader at lunch to corporate executives in the Charlotte region – all non-Spanish speakers – are raving about the passionate and extremely entertaining Panthers Spanish-language broadcasts.