Greasy foods win big in March Madness on Capitol Hill

After weeks of “friendly” wagers between lawmakers on Capitol Hill over the NCAA basketball tournament, three unlikely champions have emerged: sodium, calories and fat.

The three unhealthy elements dominate the nutritional makeup of items wagered by members of Congress on the tournament this year, which included country hams, ducks, chocolates, cases of popcorn, pastries, wine and peanuts.

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s loss to Butler University over the weekend means that Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) will send Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) approximately 13,200 calories in the form of a 15-pound Virginia country ham. 

Had Butler lost, roast duck would have been on the menu in Virginia. 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will also send unhealthy treats to the Hoosier State following VCU’s loss: The Virginia peanuts Cantor wagered have 960 calories per cu and almost 400 mg of sodium. The wine he promised has 560 calories a bottle. 

Ham, wine and peanuts aren’t the only things Hoosiers may be noshing this month: Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) has already lost a basket of chocolate to Daniels over the UConn women’s loss to Notre Dame over the weekend, but he announced Monday that he wants to double down on the creamy, delicious bet. 

Back in Indiana, GOP Sens. Dick Lugar (R) and Dan Coats (R) have bet cases of popcorn on Butler’s final game against UConn with Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D) and Joe Lieberman (I), who wagered Pepperidge Farm pastries.

Regardless of which team won the national championship on Monday night (the victor cut the net well after ITK went to bed), tens of thousands of calories will likely change hands between the Hoosier and Nutmeg states.

Thus far the only upside, health-wise, of the tournament might have been the elimination of North Carolina’s two powerhouse squads, UNC and Duke, in late rounds; the state’s beloved pulled-pork sandwiches have about 500 calories each.