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Let's Talk About Safety

As BahamaTodd pointed out in this thread, Volvo has a clever marketing campaign to give away $1 million dollars worth of vehicles to randomly selected contestants if, and only if, a team scores a safety during Super Bowl LIV. This got me interested in the metrics regarding safeties and Volvo’s giveaway.

For those who do not know what a safety is, it’s when a ball becomes dead in the goal area (end zone) of the team in possession of the ball (the offense), unless the ball arrived their at the impetus of the other team (the defense). There are several different scenarios that can cause this to happen, one of the more common ones is the defense sacks the quarterback in his own end zone. A normal safety is worth 2 points.


As an interesting aside that I was unaware of, a safety can also occur during a “try” (the play during which the offensive team attempts an extra point kick or 2 point conversion following a touch down). This is called a Conversion Safety and it is only worth 1 point. A single point safety has never occurred in an NFL game and only 9 times in collegiate football (collegiate football hosts an order of magnitude more games which is why it’s happened several times there and not at all in professional play).

Statistically, safeties are somewhat rare in football. The 1943 football season saw no safeties scored by any team, and the 1988 season saw the most safeties with 26. The highest safety rate was in the 1932 with 8 in 48 games (1 in 6) and the lowest frequency, aside from the 1943 season, was 3 in 105 games (1 in 35) during the 1966 season. The league average is approximately 1 in 14 games. Curiously, Super Bowls have a rate of safeties higher than even the 1932 season, with 1 safety in every 5.89 Super Bowls.


The most recent Super Bowl safety was in Super Bowl XLVIII which occurred in 2014 (2013 season). That means Super Bowl LIV will be the 6th Super Bowl since the last safety, meaning that, statistically speaking, we are due for a safety.

If a safety does occur, Volvo will have to give out $1 million worth of cars. What does $1 million worth of Volvos look like? I did some scouting and discovered that the cheapest Volvo is the XC40 with a base price of $34,695. That is a zero option car, a unicorn that doesn’t exist, but presumably would be the car you would receive from Volvo if you were a winner and it was your build. If every entrant picked the base XC40 as their car, $1 million would net 28.82 Volvo. Assuming they are cutting this off at exactly $1 million, that means 28 people could win XC40s. Sorry #29, your XC40 was $6,155 too much.


On the other hand, the most expensive Volvo I could come up with was a loaded XC90 with every single option box checked, which tipped the scales at $98,555. If every entrant selected this, Volvo would only be able to give away 10 vehicles. There would be only $14,450 left over, not enough to cover even half of a base XC40.

Assuming most people don’t pick the most expensive option, and don’t pick the cheapest option, we arrive on an average vehicle price of $66,625 (assuming normal distribution and non-discretized options, which is not true in this case but after looking at several combinations myself this does seem to be a reasonable approximation). At this average price Volvo will be giving away almost exactly 15 cars (15.009 to be more precise). At this rate Volvo will only have $625 left in the $1 million prize coffer.


So what cars did Oppo pick? On BahamaTodds thread I mainly saw mentions of V90s, V60s, and S60s. Anyone opting for the cheap, base SUV? Anyone trying to squeeze Volvo for a top spec XC90? I went for a V60 Polestar, in black, no add-ons, for an MSRP of $68,295.

Good luck to you all and I hope somewhere between 10 and 28 of us win Volvos!

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