Capital One’s The Match sponsor Wheels Up wheeled out ambassadors Russell Wilson, Alex Rodriguez, and J.J. Watt while the pairing of legendary golfers and quarterbacks entertained a sports-craving nation

Two months ago the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic claimed live sports on television and virtually everywhere else. Yesterday, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson renewed their rivalry alongside NFL star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

This afternoon, Turner Sports, which broadcast the event, said the charity golf tournament drew an average of 5.8 million people across its networks. Peak viewership for Capital One’s “The Match” was 6.3 million viewers.

The event raised $20 million for Covid-19 Coronavirus relief. It also provided a platform for Wheels Up, which in the past year has been on an expansion binge. After buying TMC Jets, Delta Private Jets, and Gama Aviation Signature, the group is now the largest Part 135 charter operator.

Expanding the Private Jet Market

A recent McKinsey analysis estimated only 10% of consumers who can afford to fly privately did so prior to the pandemic. Researchers believe there are between one and two million U.S. households and businesses that have the money to charter private jets, buy jet cards, or even fraction ownership shares. One analysis found the risk of exposure to Covid-19 is 30 times lower when flying privately.

During the nearly five hours of golf, sometimes in blinding rain, Wheels Up was recognized via interviews with its ambassadors. Alex Rodriguez and J.J. Watt both made appearances. They used the mass audience to promote Meals Up. The effort, launched by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and Wheels Up CEO and founder Kenny Dichter, is supporting Feeding America.

On Friday, Wheels Up announced the effort had beat its initial goal of providing 10 million meals. So far, the private jet provider’s efforts have donated over 12 million meals.

During his appearance on The Match, Wilson added 300,000 meals. He offered 100,000 meals for each golfer whose tee shot was within 12 feet of the pin on the 16th hole. The competition was won by Woods and Manning. It was played at Medalist Golf Course at Hobe Sound, Florida.

In addition to expanding its sharing program, Wheels Up relaunched its Core membership in December. It now offers fixed, capped rates on all sizes of private jets, plus its King Air 350i turboprops.

Private Jet Card Comparisons is donating $75 from every subscription through the end of May and expects to donate over 100,000 meals via Feeding America.

During The Match, Wheels Up also debuted a new television commercial saluting veterans.

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