Newman Day is a collegiate drinking tradition where 24 beers are consumed over 24 hours, founded by students of Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine. In its debut in the January 1976 Winter Carnival at the college, a student exclaimed that Paul Newman once said "twenty four hours in a day, twenty four beers in a case. Coincidence? I think not" as a rhetorical mandate.
Originally named Paul Newman Day, it was renamed Newman Day (sometimes known as Newman's Day), and became an unofficial student tradition at Bates in the years to follow. As time went on the tradition was picked up by his alma mater, Kenyon College, as well as Princeton University. Newman Day begins at 12:00 am on the morning of April 24th and concludes at 11:59 pm. During his life Newman publicly opposed the tradition and asserted that the quote inspiring it was misattributed. The tradition has been spun off into new traditions and similar activities by The Evergreen State College and the University of Virginia.
The first reference to "Paul Newman Day" occurred in the late 1970s in The Bates Student. It was noted as a day where students participated in food fights in the dining hall while drinking. However, the activity was renamed "Newman Day" and included following a rhetorical and hypothetical pseudo-mandate made by Newman. In a speech to college students that was profiled by a magazine, Newman stated:
Newman Day begins at 12:00 am on the morning of April 24th and concludes at 11:59 pm. The traditional and original rules stipulate that one beer must be consumed every hour, on the hour, during this time period. During this time, the participant is allowed to sleep but is not allowed to "boot" (throw up), or else the amount of beer consumed is "reset" to zero and they must begin the challenge again (i.e. if someone were to throw up at 11:50 pm, should they choose to complete the activity, they would have to consume 24 beers in nine minutes or 540 seconds). The participant must continue with their daily activities (i.e. going to classes, sports practices, theatre performances, etc.), assuming a normal outer appearance. Although not specified, when Newman stated "24 beers in a case", many students at Bates College interpreted that to mean the standard fluid ounce of a beer can, i.e. 12 ounces.
The consumption of 24 beers in 24 hours can have serious negative effects on a kidney's processing capabilities and induce cognitive irregularities. Regardless of body weight or time in between drinks, the total consumption of a 12 ounce beer, every hour on the hour, can have universal effects on the mental state and physical composition of participants. According to standardized blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and the impact of sleep deprivation, a typical Newman Day follows as:
- 12:00 AM – 5:00 AM: participants should feel mild euphoria, talkativeness, and impaired concentration. Resetting (and then completing) Newman Days after 5:00 AM can lead to an overloaded BAC possibly causing severe central nervous system depression, an induced coma, or even death.
- 5:00 AM – 10:00 AM: participants should feel boisterousness, nauseous, and should experience slurred speech.
- 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM: participants should experience emotional swings, severe motor impairment, and a temporary loss of memory.
- 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM: participants should experience lapses in and out of consciousness, loss of basic understanding, and difficulty speaking.
- 10:00 PM – 11:59 PM: participants should experience irregular heartbeats, blackouts, and alcohol poisoning.
The negative health impacts of Newman Day can be mitigated by sleeping a full eight to ten hours the day before, eating regularly throughout Newman Day, drinking water intermittently, and not resetting the game.
Newman's public disapproval
Newman strongly opposed the tradition as he himself struggled with drinking. He called it "abhorrent" and "cruel." While Bates College and Princeton University began to establish the tradition on their campuses, Newman wrote letters to the universities' presidents denouncing the activities around the tradition. In April 2004, he took out a page in The Daily Princetonian, Princeton's college newspaper, to say that the quote was misattributed and to register his disapproval. During an interview with The New York Times, he stated that students at participating universities were free to do what they please, but they shouldn't use his name. He encouraged students to participate in "twenty-three hours of community service followed by a cold one."
Dear Mr. Reynolds:
I was surprised to learn that a day which was held in my honor was actually an excuse for drunkenness, disregard for property, disrespect for people, and deeds of questionable character. That the tradition of these activities has been wisely quashed by those in authority is indeed a relief.
I would like to propose that Paul Newman Day be reinstated under somewhat different guidelines; i.e., a day in pursuit of athletic excellence with paid attendance. The proceeds to be returned to the community in ways of your own choosing. I would be grateful to learn if the students find any merit in this.
Sincerely, Paul Newman
Bates along with Princeton quickly disavowed any responsibility for the event, responding that Newman Day is not sponsored, endorsed, or encouraged by the universities and is solely an unofficial event among students.
- The Daily Princetonian: Carol Lu, "If I had a nickel for every beer I drank today."Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. April 24, 2007.
- "Newman's Own Letter | News | Bates College". www.bates.edu. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- The New York Times: "Newman's Day — forget it, star urges drinkers." Retrieved May 27, 2007.
- "24 beers in a case, 24 hours in a day. Coincidence? I think not". Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Nevin, David (1970). Muskie of Maine. Ladd Library, Bates College: Random House, New York. p. 99.
- "Newman's Own Letter". January 1, 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Woz, Markus (2002). Traditionally Unconventional. Ladd Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine: Bates College. p. 6.
- Cheng, Jonathan (April 22, 2004). "Film Legend Bothered by Use of Name in Stunt at Princeton". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Cheng, Jonathan (May 13, 2004). "Newman Day Called Cruel Joke by Actor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Cheng, Jonathan (22 April 2004). "Film Legend Bothered by Use of Name in Stunt at Princeton". Retrieved 23 March 2018 – via NYTimes.com.
- McAfee, Nick (April 24, 2014). "Happy Newman's Day! Or the perfect excuse to drink 24 beers in 24 hours". Broke & Thirsty. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Connell, Sarah (2005). Bates College College Prowler Off the Record. College Prowler, Inc. ISBN 9781596580084.
- "Newman's Day, Why Beer Comes in Cases". America Fun Fact of the Day. 2011-04-24. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
- Sifferlin, Alexandra (July 1, 2015). "What Drinking Does to Your Body Over Time". Time. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
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- "CDC - Fact Sheets-Binge Drinking - Alcohol". www.cdc.gov. May 10, 2015. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
- Newman’s Own Letter to Bates President Reynolds on April 20, 1987.
- Cheng, Jonathan. 2004. "Film Legend Bothered by Use of Name in Stunt at Princeton." The New York Times.
- The Bates Student. 2017. "Newman's Own." The Bates Student.
- Letters of Note. 2010. "24 beers in a case, 24 hours in a day. Coincidence? I think not." Letters of Note.
- Jessie Sawyer, Sarah Connell. 2012. "Bates College." College Prowler.