Why do the Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Record and last win explored

Joshua Rogers November 23, 2022
Why do the Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Record and last win explored
Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thanksgiving is here, and fans are wondering why the Lions always play on Thanksgiving. Here’s when the Lions last won on Thanksgiving, their overall record, and those dreaded memes.

Both the Lions and Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving, but that’s understandable in regards to Dallas – they’re America’s team after all.

But why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving? Well, the Lions began playing on Thanksgiving in 1934, and it’s been the same for the past 88 years.

Why do the Lions always play on Thanksgiving?

The tradition dates to 1934 when Lions team owner George A Richards wanted to build a fanbase and needed a new tradition. He proposed hosting the world champions Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving and, lo and behold, it was a massive success.

Radio broadcasts went through the roof and extended far beyond the state of Michigan. From that day, it has been a tradition the Lions have upheld, and the league has been more than happy to honor it.

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  • Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

    What is their record?

    The Bears won that first Thanksgiving game against the Lions 19-16. This year the Lions take on the Buffalo Bills, many peoples’ early favorite for the Super Bowl.

    Sadly, the Lions have a pretty dreadful Thanksgiving record at 37-43-2. However, during the past few years it has been particularly depressing for their fans – their record in the past two decades on Thanksgiving is 4-16.

    When was the last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving?

    The Lions have lost 14 of their past 18 Thanksgiving Day games, which includes last year’s 16-14 loss to the Chicago Bears.

    In fact, they have lost five straight Thanksgiving games. The last time the Lions won on Thanksgiving was in 2016, when they beat the Minnesota Vikings 16-13.

    Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Hopefully there won’t be any need for more Lions Thanksgiving memes

    The Lions losing on Thanksgiving has been a bit of a running joke over the years. Having said that, they could buck the trend as they have won three in a row and the Bills have lost two of the last three.

    Detroit fans will hope, for once, they don’t have to put up with the Lions Thanksgiving memes that usually circulate around this time every year.

    Although they are pretty funny…

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    Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.