Alaskan bank to sponsor Iditarod

 Mitch Seavey on the trail near Elim, far in the Iditarod lead. (Tracy Sabo / KTUU)
Mitch Seavey on the trail near Elim, far in the Iditarod lead. (Tracy Sabo / KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 7, 2017 at 11:02 AM AKDT
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The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race secured a new “Lead Dog” sponsor for the 2018 race in Northrim Bank, an Alaska-based bank with 14 branches across the state. The bank will now be the “Official Bank” of the race, a title formerly afforded to Wells Fargo, which dropped its sponsorship earlier this year.

The Lead Dog sponsorship is the second-tier of support for the sled dog race across Alaska. Race CEO Stan Hooley says the bank’s support is comparable to the level formerly provided by Wells Fargo, but that the Iditarod Trail Committee does not publicly disclose financial agreement details.

Friday's announcement comes just more than a month after

. The move was largely attributed to a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to convince companies to drop their partnerships.

At that time, Hooley had said “There is no doubt that the decision announced earlier this week is directly related to the manipulative misinformation that PETA and others have been using to target our sponsors at their corporate headquarters outside of Alaska.”

PETA said it met with Wells Fargo executives after five dogs died during the 2017 race. A statement by PETA at the time said the executives “were shocked and horrified to learn about the egregious cruelty that occurs on and off the nearly 1,000-mile course.”

In June, the animal rights organization said its supporters had also convinced State Farm to drop its sponsorship of the race. Hooley said Friday that State Farm had been in a one-year agreement with the race, which ended June 30, and that he had no indication either way as to a renewal from the company.

Hooley said that 75 percent of their sponsorship relationships are up for renewal each year, and that most are one-year agreements.

"But the most important message here is that the costs to stage the Iditarod increase each year," Hooley wrote. He continued, "While today's announcement... is great news, our budget calls for other new revenue."

Race officials say that so far, 55 mushers have signed up for the 2018 Iditarod, which begins Saturday, March 3, 2018.