Every year since 2007, at the first home football game of the season, thousands of MSU students illuminate Bobcat Stadium with their bright gold t-shirts and ferocious school spirit. But how did the tradition start?

The idea for Gold Rush sprang up fifteen years ago in the MSU marketing and athletic departments.  

Larry Aasheim of Universal Athletic, MSU Marketing Director Julie Kipfer, and Bobcat Athletics' first-year Director of Marketing Drew Ingraham aimed to elevate school spirit and sell more t-shirts. They came up with the perfect idea and name: The first football game of every subsequent year would be called Gold Rush.

Aasheim and Ingraham told MSU Athletics the goal of Gold Rush was to engage the fans in the season opener and get people more involved with MSU Athletics. 

The marketing team was already familiar with using football to promote t-shirt sales. They’d had some success with the previous “Paint it Blue!” campaign. Students were asked to purchase limited edition t-shirts and wear them to the football game against North Dakota State. Now, it was time to take the promotion to a larger — and golder — scale. 

The team wanted as many people dressed in gold as possible on game day.

Julie Kipfer played an instrumental role in maintaining low costs for the shirts. Ingraham told MSU Athletics she pushed for student and community affordability and without her plan, as well as Universal Athletics’ cooperation, the promotion may have been fruitless. 

In the first game of the 2007 season, the Cats suffered a loss after putting up a fight against Texas A&M. The game scheduled to follow would become the first-ever Gold Rush. 

The first turnout was massive. Nearly 14,000 people arrived to spectate and most of them were wearing gold. 

For the next 15 years, the tradition grew until it became what it is today. Nowadays, almost every student — and Bozemanite — knows the word Gold Rush, and they probably have the gold t-shirt as well. The 2022 Gold Rush t-shirt features a design chosen by votes from fan-designed submissions.

Leon Costello, MSU’s athletic director summed up the spirit of Gold Rush well: "It is truly one of best college football atmospheres anywhere in the country. Not only are people excited about kicking off a new school year and a new college football season, but this tradition has really ramped up our fans' excitement for the entire season."