Taste

Here's What People Will Do For A Year Of Free Chick-fil-A

No pain, no gain, no chicken. 🐔
10/06/2015 07:01am ET | Updated October 6, 2015
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Chick-fil-A opened the doors of its three-story Manhattan behemoth Oct. 3, greeting throngs of chicken biscuit-seekers with sweet tea and a smile. But the real story isn't the grand opening -- instead it takes place 12 hours earlier, as hundreds of New Yorkers lined up in the rain for the chance to win a year of free chicken.

Chick-fil-A's "First 100" event invites 100 members of the community to spend 12 hours at the restaurant in pursuit of one coveted prize: a year of free chicken sandwich meals. To be clear, this is not an unlimited fast food pass. "First 100" victors receive one free chicken sandwich meal per week for a year, roughly $300 dollars worth of chicken. But the promise of one free meal a week was somehow more than enough to keep hundreds of people standing outside in the rain.

According to Chick-fil-A Vice President of Public Relations and Public Affairs Carrie Kurlander, this massive turnout is not unusual. And it's not just exclusive to the New York opening -- the contest is held for openings all across the nation. "They come in sub-zero temperatures ... rain, shine. The elements do not keep people away," Kurlander said. Judging by lines stretching around the block in a hurricane-induced downpour on Friday night, New Yorkers are no exception.

Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams
Abigail Williams

Thankfully, participants did not have to camp outside overnight. After about an hour of sopping-wet misery, Chick-fil-A selected the "First 100" winners through a raffle drawing. These lucky 100 people entered the restaurant to begin a 12-hour, chicken-fueled slumber party. Restaurant employees entertained the crowd with open mic performances, food, and a screening of Night At The Museum.

"We basically try to turn it into a party," Chick-fil-A Vice President David Farmer said. "Think tailgating on steroids." To round out the tailgating vibe, participants slept in camping chairs under Chick-fil-A blankets. If any participants left before the 12 hours were up, they forfeited the grand prize.

The weather and the 12-hour lock-in fazed few "First 100" hopefuls. "I'm willing to stay the night," said Steven Soriano, 21. "It's enough free food to stand outside for a few hours," said Carina, 23.

When it comes to free chicken, New Yorkers don't mess around.

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