Gas gifts are quickly becoming part of the celebrity scene in 2022 as Americans struggle with gas prices and the wealthy — some with a service to sell — are happy to help offset the cost of packing.
From Houston to Chicago to Tampa and all points in between, gas gifts from celebrities are a new staple on the financial pandemic scene. From Road Wave in St. Petersburg to Tri the Truth in Houston to Vic Mensa in Chicago, celebrities have been trying to ease the pain of rising (and falling and rising again) gas prices by hosting gifts related to local Shell, BP, Sanoco, and other gases. stations.
The most recent big gift was from Houston-based rapper Lil Jeremy, who gave gas to the first 100 cars in the line. Jairmy also offered activities for those who were waiting, including a live DJ, free food, and activities for the kids. Over Labor Day weekend, Mensa donated $10,000 worth of gas in Chicago to celebrate his new cannabis company 93BOYZ, which is also one of the very few brands of black weed in the country. They were able to fill about 200 cars.
From Minsa: “To celebrate the launch of 93BOYZ, Chicago’s first black cannabis brand, we went to the gas station in the building where I grew up and offered $10,000 in free gas. At a time when so many people struggle to fill their tank, it was nice to be able to helping the community in a real way.”
Trae Tha Truth, of Houston, packed vehicles at Third Ward Chevron, up to $50 per vehicle, as part of the Trae Day Weekend for charity. Back in April, Rod Wave paid $25,000 worth of gas at Sunoco
As Trae told the Houston Chronicle, “I’m always in the process of giving back to the community. Right now, times are tough and it’s only appropriate for us to do something that will really count for them.”
But rappers aren’t the only ones digging into a soft giveaway (or charity) marketing plan. Everyone from PACs to churches to credit unions to credit unions are taking advantage of high gas prices as a way to raise awareness of their organization for the services they provide. Philanthropists like Willie Wilson of Chicago (who often hoped for mayor), have donated more than $1 million in free gas without strings attached.
On the other hand, gas gifts are a goodwill gesture and can really help people who need a boost for the week. But critics of such gifts say traffic pollutes the air (from cars parked for hours in line) and harms vulnerable residents by slowing down public transportation services. These critics say people get a better gas card than having to wait in line to get a fill. In Chicago, for example, the huge and frequent gifts given by Wilson caused back-ups of traffic miles long, prompting locals to mark the locations and dates of future gifts to avoid the neighborhoods in which such gifts used to occur.
As Chicago historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas wrote for Triibe: “With so many cars struggling to find a place in line to receive free gas at participating stations, the city had to deploy Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers to control traffic. I don’t think I’m out of line saying that CPD has a strained relationship with the same residents who were queuing for free gas. This kind of disruption can lead to negative interactions with the police, and none of us want that. Not to mention that pulling band cars out of their rhythms to keep calm to get Free gifts for gas is not a good use of taxpayer money.”
However, giveaways sponsored by rappers in the recent past do not appear to have the same absolute intensity or environmental impact as Wilson’s gifts. Anecdotally, looks — largely documented on Facebook and Twitter — from Mensa’s small gifts (in the $10,000 range) lead to better community outcomes in part because the wait times are simply not that long.
Gas 101 gifts shop in tough financial times, and with prices still rising, it’s safe to say that with winter approaching and hurricane season intensifying, gifts like these won’t be given anywhere soon. In fact, it may increase. And I expect the townspeople will always line up for them.