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Wanna Take Home this Giant Pin From ‘Let’s Bowl’?

Rent a truck and drive some friends to Mankato, 'cause this thing's free.

12:34 PM CDT on October 3, 2023

All this could be yours!

The most Minnesota TV show ever aired in the late '90s. It was called Let’s Bowl

On each episode, two bowlers squared off for a chance to win glamorous prizes: a Schmidt’s beer cooler, a herring of the month club membership, an economy-sized box of detergent, a gift card to Old Country Buffet. Hosts Steve "Chopper" Sedahl and Wally Hotvedt (Rich Kronfeld) provided color commentary, and the show often featured skits and musical guests like Soul Asylum, Cornbread Harris, and the Vibrochamps.

The program aired on a variety of local stations during its run, eventually making its way to Comedy Central for a few seasons.

When the show was canceled in '01, there were a ton of props that needed to be dealt with. Take, for example, the hollow, bright-blue, 9-foot-tall bowling pin that's resided in Shelley Pierce’s garage for over a decade. It could be yours, if you want it—for free.

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“It’s been in my garage for 10 or 15 years,” she estimates. “Just hanging out. Not doing anything. Sometimes people come over and say, 'OMG, what is that?'”

Pierce was a big fan of the show, often watching it during cast screenings at Grumpy’s NE and interviewing hosts Steve and Wally on her morning radio show at KMSU Mankato. When the time came to sell, give away, and store iconic parts of the set, she and her friends were eager to give a few pieces a new life. 

“I ended up getting the bowling pin and a bunch of other stuff,” she says. “My friend and I were talking about buying a place and starting a bar and we would use the stuff in the bar. Picking up the bowling pin was about as far as we got.”

Now the pin has gotta go; Pierce needs more room for practical things like snow blowers and tools. It’s free to anyone who wants it, though you have to come to Mankato to pick it up, and it’s admittedly not the easiest thing to travel with.

“We loaded it on the trailer and drove down 169 at 50 miles per hour, praying it didn’t blow off,” she says of how it made it to Mankato. “We were so paranoid. It was a really windy day.”

The pin is mostly constructed of styrofoam, and is bottom heavy due to it being on wheels. Pierce says it took three or four people to move it in and out of her trailer. Fans of the show will recognize it from a regular segment called “In the Pin,” where host Wally (Kronfeld) would lock himself inside it with the episode's contestants, mixing daiquiris to share and taking his shirt off if it got too hot. “We wouldn’t tell the contestants [what we were going to ask],” Kronfeld told City Pages in 2019. “I think I sort of scared this one kid... I kept asking him if he liked to party.”

The cast pose with another, unrelated, giant bowling pin.Promo

Pierce says she's had folks express interest in taking their pin off her hands, but logistics and space constraints usually get in the way. Still, she promises she’ll never trash the piece (“I don’t ever want to throw it away!”). She suggests adding it to a man cave for added kitsch. “Even if they don’t know the show, I mean, it’s a huge bowling pin you can sit in,” she says of it’s cache.

Although she’s ready to give away the pin, Pierce says she has a few pieces from the show she’ll hold onto forever, including signage and a (normal-sized) pin signed by the cast. The program will always have a special spot in her heart. “If I meet somebody who knows Let’s Bowl it’s like, ‘Oh man, these are my kinds of people,’” she says, laughing. “I know then we’re gonna have more in common than most people.”

If you're interested, you can contact Pierce via her Facebook post or email her at shelley215@juno.com.

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